That is what a global study that was recently released says: http://news.yahoo.com/more-youngsters-having-unsafe-sex-global-study-231442651.html. They say unsafe sex is up 39% for Americans alone. My main problems with this article are: 1) they define ‘unsafe’ as getting pregnant or getting an std. 2) they look to Planned Parenthood as the sole voice of reason on why this is happening.
What is ‘unsafe sex’?
Yes, unplanned pregnancies and stds are the most obvious of side effects. Yes, but what about what it does to someone’s self-esteem, body image, sense of value, or moral/spiritual conflict? As an adult woman who knows her own story and the stories of hundreds of young women shared with me, I can assure you that these ‘other issues’ are just as traumatic to deal with and have just as lifelong a consequence. So let’s at least open up and discuss all the ways it is unsafe for a young couple when they have sex.
Why are they having ‘unprotected sex’?
I get it. There are many, many young adults that do not know the truth about or how to prevent an unplanned pregnancy or an std. We all have a responsibility to share the truths about birth control pills, condoms, etc. so that young people are very aware of what they do protect you from; but most importantly what they don’t protect you from. I talk to plenty of young adults who still think a condom provides 100% protection from a pregnancy or std. We know that is simply not true, but when you run print and TV ads that say: teenage pregnancy is 100% preventable and and link directly to a site that only talks about condoms, you are lying. Flat out lying. And while this pertains more to women (but men are not excluded), there is no protection of the heart and mind and moral compass when engaging in sex. You are simply in the deep end of the pool. There is no perfect safety net.
What do we do?
I wish it were just simply a matter of educating about condoms or pills or handing them out, but that doesn’t help young adults act like adults when engaging in sex. We have many clients who knew about condoms and had access to them, but still chose to not use them (I even see med students walk in here for our services). We cannot blame risky behavior solely on ignorance. Young adults (actually let me correct that…’people’) choose to ignore or have a hard time letting education change moral behavior. If that were the case we wouldn’t be checking for fake IDs at a bar, pulling over drunk drivers, cleaning up car accidents from those who were texting/talking on the cell while driving, or selling any more cigarettes. No it takes a whole lot more than educating about the risks or appealing to the fears in people. For true behavior to change, we need to also focus on the benefits of good choices; alternative ways to deal with desires (all desires) and creating more avenues for ongoing accountability. So the next time this topic comes up, I hope they do more than ask the opinions of Planned Parenthood.
Renee Rizzo is President and CEO of Hope Clinic for Women. She feels passionate about helping all people; especially women who have been hurt or broken, realize there IS hope, and that God has a purpose for each one of us.