Commentary: Teens Need Information and Guidance About Sex

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 (Courtesy Johanna Mendoza)

Editor's note: The following story was produced by an Ygnacio Valley High School student for Youth Takeover week at KQED.

As a teenage girl, I know the feeling of not being able to bring up teen pregnancy or talk about sex-related conversations with my parents. For many, the subject is awkward and uncomfortable.

This was the case for me, until this year.

Before coming to Ygnacio Valley High School, I was never really educated about sex and how to make educated decisions regarding contraception methods. And yet, my parents expect me not to get pregnant.

While I am not worried about getting pregnant, something I have observed is that when it happens, the young woman is usually shamed.

Our parents should learn how to normalize sex-related conversations. For example, my friend was having unprotected sex. When I asked her why, she said it was because she’s only 14 and doesn't think she is able to get pregnant. If she had taken a class or had an adult in her life she could talk to, I think she would make educated decisions.

These days teens learn misguided or fictional information on social media, websites, even TV. Most teenagers I know use the pull-out method, not knowing they can still get pregnant or end up with a sexually transmitted infection.

Here at Ygnacio Valley High School, I applaud Ms. Lamb’s healthy living class, in which she teaches about safe sex, contraception, consent, sexuality, and sexually transmitted illnesses. As a teenage girl, I wish society would normalize teen sex, so that adults and teens would be able to talk about it with less awkwardness. It would make a huge impact on teen pregnancies. And it helps the boys, too, not just the girls. From talking with my girlfriends, we’ve realized some teenage boys don’t even know how to put on a condom, so sometimes they say they don’t want to use it.

My friends and I don’t always have someone to talk with about how to handle a situation like that. Every teen should have at least one individual who can help them through these confusing years.