As many of us know these days, the United States leads the Western world in nearly every category of adolescent sexual problem, including unwanted pregnancies, abortions, out of wedlock births, partner abuse, rapes, and STD infections. It’s a disturbing picture. Moreover, it’s pretty much up in the air at this point whether anything meaningful will be done about it. That’s largely because there is strong ideological and cultural opposition in the US to implementing the solutions that are already known to work best.
Surely, those solutions do not include telling adolescents little more than to abstain from having sex. In the first place, only a quaint minority of teens will take that advice. In the second place, the majority of teens who don’t will all too often behave unwisely because we failed to share with them our knowledge and wisdom. Yet, despite all that, abstinence only sexuality education remains a very popular pseudo-solution to dealing with adolescent sexual problems. It is highly controversial in many parts of this country to teach teens anything else.
Indeed, abstinence is so highly praised in the United States that even those of us who oppose only teaching teens to abstain from sex are usually quick to say teens should still be taught abstinence as the preferred method for dealing with their sexuality. “Abstain first, and have sex only as a last resort.”
It seems very few of us want to tell teens having sex can be a positive experience. One of those few is Dr. Karen Rayne. For that reason, Dr. Rayne’s blog, Adolescent Sexuality, is in it’s own way among the more courageous blogs I’ve come across on the net.
Dr. Rayne is an educator who, in her off line life, specializes in teaching human sexuality to people of all ages. She has focused her blog, however, on providing the best possible help and advice to parents in dealing with their teenage children’s sexuality. That is, her blog isn’t for teenagers so much as it’s for the parents of teenagers. And it is surely one of the most helpful blogs such a parent could find.
I find her advice insightful, balanced and wise. Some of us might be scandalized by the notion that sex — under the right circumstances — can be a positive experience for their teen, but I am not. To be sure, I might have been scandalized by that notion as recently as fifteen years ago. But that was before fate led me to make the acquaintance of scores of teens. Today, I am because of those teens in fundamental agreement with Dr. Rayne. Most teens are going to have sex by the end of their adolescent years, and those teens need to know how to best manage their sexuality.
Dr. Rayne’s blog is wide ranging. She deals with just about every aspect of adolescent sexuality, and never seems to exhaust the subject. She avoids writing technical jargon and instead writes for a general audience. Her advice is based both on research and field experience, and seems quite practical. For those and other reasons, I am ruthlessly inflicting on her the Sun Mountain Award in appreciation for an outstanding blog.