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

Last updated: May 21, 2019

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
  • For Maryland information click here.

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?

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