Emotional aspects are left out of discussion
Everyone talks about the basics.
By JENNINE ZELEZNIK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
Sex education is a part of almost every public school's curriculum. Parents are encouraged to have "the talk" with their kids. Sex is an open topic, people are informed, kids are learning.
But are they learning enough?
Not just about the basic mechanics, mind you, or even the risks involved.
Adults have done a pretty good job covering that.
What teens want to know are not the physical consequences, but the emotional ones -- like how it feels to be called a slut.
"[Adults] leave parts out," said Dana Hilbert, 16, of Austintown. "They don't tell us what people will say behind your back. You have to go through it yourself to know."
"And then it's too late," said her friend Elyse Coulter, 16, of Austintown.
Adults also need to make clear how sex will affect relationships -- even long-term ones, Hilbert said.
"I wish they'd said how much it will change everything in the relationship," she said. "Once you figure it out, the relationship's over, and it's too late."
Negativity: Some teens feel that adults spend too much time talking up the negative aspects of sex.
"[Adults] preach too much," said Jessie Corsell, 17, of Poland. "They don't try to teach you, they preach to you not to do it.
"Don't preach -- don't tell them not to do it, because it will make them want to do it more."
Ashley Clark, 14, of Boardman added, "All you're taught is not to do it and the consequences. They make it sound negative, like there's nothing good about it."
Amy Cox, 16, of Poland added, "Tell [teens] the facts. Tell them like it is. When kids ask, don't say the stork brings babies -- tell them like it is."
But when adults aren't forthcoming with the information, teens turn to other sources, like magazines, TV, and -- most important -- their friends.
"I wish I'd been taught slang terms," Cox said. "I learned so many from my peers -- my mom taught me the basics, but my friends told me the rest."
Clark added, "I haven't learned enough about sex in school -- this year [eighth grade] was the first we were taught anything. So I talk to my friends a lot, instead."
Be a friend: Most important, though, what teen girls want is someone to just talk to about sex.
"When I talk to my mom, she acts like the adult, and tells me not to do it or that I should have listened to her," Hilbert said. "When I talk to friends, they act like friends. But I just need someone to listen to me, without an opinion."