Tips for Parents: Talking to Your Teens About Sex and Other Health Topics

Last updated: March 2, 2018

It is important for parents to talk to their teens about sex, STIs*, tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Teens want to make their own decisions, but their parents and peers also influence them. Studies show that young people whose parents talk to them about sex and other topics are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Here are some facts and advice to help you become more knowledgeable and more comfortable when speaking with your teen.

*Note: The term sexually transmitted infections (STIs) refers to any infection that can be spread through sexual contact. These infections are often referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The terms STI and STD have the same meaning.

Be aware of these facts about young people:

    • In 2015, 233 babies were born to Anne Arundel County mothers ages 19 and under. Pregnant teens and their unborn babies have unique medical risks, including high blood pressure, low birth weight and premature birth.
    • Chlamydia and gonorrhea are STIs that can cause sterility (inability to get pregnant). In 2015, 26% of chlamydia cases and 18% of gonorrhea cases were diagnosed among Anne Arundel County teens ages 19 and under.
    • Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Usage Among Youth

What your teen needs to know about sex:

      • Practicing abstinence is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and prevent getting an STI.
      • There are risks of getting an STI by having vaginal, oral or anal sex, even if a condom is used.
      • The use of alcohol and drugs may affect the ability to use good judgment and make decisions, including those related to sexual activity. Unwanted pregnancy, date rape, sexual violence or other physical injuries can be the result of alcohol and drug use.

How do you begin talking to your teens?

      • Clearly state your values and morals, so your teens understand how you feel about drugs, alcohol, STIs, teen pregnancy and teen sex.
      • Listen to your teens to find out what they know or don’t know about these topics. Remember, you have the greatest influence in your teen’s life. It is never too early to talk to your teens about drugs, STIs, teen pregnancy or teen sex.
      • For more tips, view Talking Together Makes a Difference.

What does the Anne Arundel County Department of Health offer for parents and teens?

    • Pregnancy testing and a list of family planning services (free and confidential) are available at:
    • Glen Burnie Health Center
      416 A Street, S.W.
      Glen Burnie, Maryland 21061
    • Parole Health Center
      1950 Drew Street
      Annapolis, Maryland 21401
    • Health educators and medical staff are available to answer questions about teen health. You can call the following programs:
      • Alcohol and Drug Prevention Services, 410-222-6724
        Provides information about alcohol and drug prevention. Referrals for treatment are available. Health educators are available to speak to groups of parents, teens and community members for free. Speakers may be requested.
      • HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevention and Care Program, 410-222-7382
        Provides free and anonymous HIV and STI counseling and testing located throughout the County.
      • Immunizations Program, 410-222-4896
        Provides recommended immunizations. Parental consent is required.

Parents can get more information at the following websites:

Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Teen Pregnancy: The Importance of Prevention, CDC

Birth Control
Unintended Pregnancy Prevention: Contraception, CDC
Anne Arundel County Teen Birth Rates

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
STD Topics, CDC
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs) in Anne Arundel County
Sexually Transmitted Disease Services and Safe Sex Kit

Raising Healthy Kids
Learn To Live, Raising Healthy Kids Resource Center
Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Smoking, Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention
Smoking Stinks, tobacco use prevention and cessation, Learn To Live
Too Smart to Start, underage alcohol use prevention, SAMHSA

Health Care for Families and Youth
Anne Arundel County Network of Care
Maryland Health Connection

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