DOH starts sex talk

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is assisting parents in talking to their teens about sex, via the Internet.

The new Web site states in its introduction that it is “a guide to help you and your teen discuss important, yet difficult, issues about healthy choices, sex and relationships.”

The site takes a very direct approach and strictly endorses teaching children abstinence. While there is a page that talks about condoms, it concludes with a very serious message.

“Tell your teen son or daughter that not having vaginal, oral or anal sex protects 100percent of the time.”

The web site also states that one it may actually be easier to delay the onset of sexual intercourse than to increase contraceptive use.

However, some health officials dispute this statement.

“In my experience with this sort of information, is that not all of the information is necessarily correct,” said Becky Keaton, an educator in family planning in Gadsden County.

“If the source is not going to give correct information then why give it at all,” said Keaton, who has been with the Board of Nursing for more than 19 years.

Under the heading of “How can I be a good parent?” the Web site provides a list of house rules for parents to follow when preparing their teens for dating and sexuality.

The third rule on this list states that teens should date someone within two years of his or her own age. This rule, as safe as it may seem, might not be effective.

A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control reported that 74 percent of all teens’ first sexual encounter is with someone that is in the same age range.

“We’re fooling ourselves if we think that only abstinence approaches work,” said Rep. Curtis B. Richardson, (D-Tallahassee).

“In a perfect world this would work but the reality is some teens are choosing to have sex. It is important to give the parents all the information and let parents make the decision on what to teach them.”

Under heading “Talk Topics,” the Web site talks about condoms, but is limited to information for parents about STD prevention and condom usage. It said that while condoms are the only affective guard against diseases.

Many bacteria (chlamydia and gonorrhea) and viruses like herpes and HPV can be shared, even with part of the reproductive tract covered.

While it is a good idea for parents to warn their children that condoms must be used correctly, this information is not entirely accurate.

“Condoms are highly effective (against bacteria infections),” said Christine Gajda, director of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood. “Some of the Web site’s claims do have validity, such as if herpes is spread to upper regions of the body and can be passed through contact even if using a condom.”

A ninth grade student at North Florida Christian said abstinence is taught to them. However, his school does not offer any sex education programs. While he is choosing to wait until marriage because of religious reasons, he said that there are other students his age that are having sex.

“Studies are showing now that abstinence programs and other programs like that such as virginity pledges or chastity pledges unfortunately do not work,” Gajda said.

“They at the most delay students for a year and a half. The tragic part is when they do, they do not use protection because they’ve never been taught to, or if they do they often are using it incorrectly.”

For more information on the subjects in this article, contact Planned Parenthood at 574-7455.

Contact Laura Henry at