Offensive, telling and sometimes awesome MSP quotes of the day

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story about how the Genarlow Wilson oral sex case in Georgia is important not only because of legal issues but also because of the issues it raises for parents of teenagers – particularly for parents who are wondering how to handle their teenagers when it comes to sex. Helena Oliviero and Tim Eberly deserve praise for trying to encourage discussion around adolescent sexuality in their newspaper. Unfortunately some of their sources were perhaps not actually sexual health experts (note: having written a book does not automatically make one an expert in his or her field; it simply makes them an author). Read the original article here. And if you’re a parent looking for information about raising kids in sexually healthy ways, check out From Diapers to Dating: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children From Infancy to Middle School or if you’re raising teenagers, check out Beyond the Big Talk: Every Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually HealthyTeens from Middle School to High School and Beyond

Now to some quotes from the AJC article that I can’t help but comment on:

  • "Most of the girls know about some consequences of promiscuity, Ellis said."  Very few sexual health professionals use the word "promiscuity" given its very vague meanings and often condescending, judgmental tone. And it’s pretty horrific that – once again – promiscuity is applied only to the teenage girls and not the boys.
  • "They know about pregnancy. They know about venereal disease," said Ellis, author of "Raising a Responsible Child," a parenting book. "But they’re always shocked when they find out the boy could go to prison." Again, how many sexual health professionals use the term "venereal disease"? That is NOT current terminology. Ages ago it was replaced with "sexually transmitted disease (STD)" and more recently public health professionals and sexual health professionals use terms more along the lines of "sexually transmissible infections" since a) they are not necessarily diseases but are infections and b) the older terms often carry the baggage of shame and embarrassment and have histories of being applied in judgmental ways.
  •  "Dr. Kay Entrekin, an obstetrics-gynecologist at DeKalb Medical Hospital, said parents need to talk about sex the same way they approach homework and school activities — openly and often." Agreed.
  • "Entrekin, who leads an occasional workshop at DeKalb Medical helping parents talk to their girls about puberty and sex called, "Puberty Rocks," believes parents also need to be proactive in helping their kids to avert reckless situations." Ha. Nice name for the puberty talk.
  • "Don’t let your middle schooler be home alone after school for hours without supervision," she said. "Get your kids into sports or another activity. Keep them busy." Oddly enough, some research on adolescent sexuality suggests that after-school hours are NOT the most likely times that teenagers have sex, but that they more often have sex in the evenings and on weekends when they’re on dates. That said, getting involved in sports can be very helpful for many reasons – e.g., teaching physical exercise/fitness, social skills development, and – for girls – it may reduce the chance of them having sex at an earlier age but probably not just because they’re "busy."

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About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.