Desmond loves his daughter, but wishes he had not fathered her so young.
Erin: Those who've had sex, have not had "The Talk."
Kevin: Some kids are going to each others' homes when parents are away.
Justine and Brittany: Girls are talking about other girls, and Mom wants to discuss the issue.
July 17, 2003
Albany-- Remember the birds and the bees? That's a cute phrase to describe what for some is an uncomfortable topic-- sex.
But teens these days know more and do more than their parents likely did and the "birds and the bees" talk simply doesn't cut it anymore.
At school, at home, with friends, teens are talking about sex. Jason, 16-years-old, says "It's natural I guess, it's life."
Jasmine, 15-years-old, says "We had a couple of incidents last year in school with kids having sex in the bathroom, in the classroom, when the teacher walks out, under the desk. Not just sexual intercourse but oral sex."
Ashley, 10-years-old says, "Cause like, I'll hear things on our bus, it's fifth grade down and I'll hear rumors like oh they've had sex and they are in third grade."
That might not be your child, but it could be. Young people these days are talking about sex and participating in sex more than ever. The statistics are scary--nearly half of all high schoolers are having sex. Even more frightening? Children are getting physical younger--twenty percent of kids have sexual intercourse before their 15th birthdays.
Clinical Social Worker, Judy Payne, says "Whether it's true or not true when you hear it about children at the school where your child attends, talk to your child at that point. Involve yourself then. That would be a very important message for parents to hear." Judy Payne counsels parents and teens about the sexual stresses children face today. Payne says it's hard for some parents to admit that their child might be experimenting with sex.
Payne says, "Parents might not want to hear this, they might not want to know that's happening, but for the sake of their children they have to know that kids are experimenting more." Sex sells--children are inundated with sexually explicit images on television, on the internet, in the movies, in music.
Youth Intervention Specialist, Darrell Sabbs, says "If you think like a freak you act like a freak. And most scientists and social scientists will let you know there is some truth in you seeing repetitive images and it does have a tendency to affect what you do and say."
Darrell Sabbs has worked with Southwest Georgia teens for thirty years. He says the messages and the behavior is getting worse, "You know we are seeing pregnancy drop to younger ages, 13-years- old. Young fathers father children repeatedly at very young ages. So the responsibility that goes along with the behavior, because they are children, it's not there."
Meet Desmond, "I was real shocked because she got pregnant on the first time." Desmond is a new daddy and an up-and-coming high school senior. He and his girlfriend choose to have sex last year-- it was the first time for both--and it's a choice he regrets, "I mean I love my child to death. But if I could go back in time and change anything I would have changed because it still stands we are not ready to be parents this young and it's hard."
So how much do parents know about what there children are doing? Here's what some Southwest Georgia teens had to say.
Erin, 18-years-old, says "I'd say maybe half of them have had the talk with there parents. But the other have or in the other category those that have done it, all of my friends, none of them have told there parents."
Jesbia, 14-years-old, says "Not really because the children don't go home and tell them. I ain't ever told my mama you know."
Kevin, 12-years-old, says "I hear rumors going around a lot like people's parents are gone, and they go over to the house and have sex and all."
Justine, 15-years-old, says "We talk about other girls and their situations, like, if the girl is hot, 'Can they go over to her house?' and all."
Britany, 15-years-old, says "My mom always tell me when I am ready come and talk to her before I make any decisions."
Have you talked to your child about sex? Payne says, "I think parents are afraid that if they talk to their children about sex it will encourage them to have sex. But reports show, they are consistently proving that that's not true. Children will say they will have sex later in life if they had open conversations with their parents about sex."
If you haven't had the talk, it might be time to try. It could be the most important discussion you have with your child. Experts suggest that before parents have talk to their kids about sex, it's important to first decide what your value system is. Then sit down with your child, be straight forward, and set sexual boundaries.