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Teens on Sex, Love etc.
 

Dear Free Teens,

I am a college freshman this year, 19, and finally on my own. My religion and culture have always emphasized abstinence until marriage, and I have chosen to obey that principle. When I was a young teenager, I also decided I would not have boyfriend in High School, and would not kiss anyone until after I graduated. I achieved my goals. I know some of the girls at my school that got pregnant in High School, or had irresponsible sex, and felt bad about it. I never had to worry about it, because I made the choices before the situation came up. I would encourage others, both male and female, to make their choices ASAP. If you know what you want, you are more likely to get it. And thank you so much for this web site. I always thought it was just a few select religions that publicized this, and I am glad to know you are informing other youth about the advantages of waiting. It really will change lives.

Thanks Again,
Amber


Dear Free Teens,

What about the teenagers who are having sex because they love each other and they are sure about it? I'm having sex with my boyfriend because I love and I'm sure about it. I know that we are ready to have sex. I think it's okay to have sex as long as you use PROTECTION. I think you should say something about teens having sex because they care and are ready to have sex. E-mail me and tell me if you think it is okay for two teenagers to have sex because they love each other and they both know that they are ready.

"Missy"

Richard's comment:

Dear "Missy",

Thanks for writing to us. You raise several important questions. I guess the biggest one is what do you and your boyfriend mean when you say "love each other". Does your boyfriend mean the same thing that you mean?

You say "it's okay as long as you use PROTECTION." What do you mean by "protection"? The Journal of the American Medical Association reported in October 1999 that nearly half (47%) of teenage girls living with a boyfriend will become pregnant within one year, despite using contraceptives. Does a 47% failure rate for this group sound like being "protected?" Condoms are the least effective of contraceptive devices in preventing pregnancy although they do provide partial risk reduction of infection with some sexually transmitted diseases.

Given the reality that "safe" or "protected" sex is at best a partial fiction, then we have to address the strong possibility that if you and your boyfriend continue to have sexual intercourse for the next few years because you both "love" each other that you will become pregnant. What if you want to keep the baby but your boyfriend wants it to be destroyed? What if you decide you want to get rid of it, but your boyfriend wants you to keep it?

You say you both love each other, but have you both discussed what you would do if there was a pregnancy? If not, how can you be sure that you won't be faced with the probability of becoming a single mother? Is that a loving thing to do to yourself or to your child? Even if you have talked about it the reality is that you are both teenagers and not ready to become parents. Do you want to start out your young adult life as a teen parent or as someone who decides to destroy a life because it was inconvenient?

Since condoms provide virtually no protection against infection with the human papilloma virus (hpv), which is spread by skin-to-skin contact throughout the entire genital area, not just the part covered by a condom, condoms cannot protect you from the possibility of cervical cancer, 95% of which is cause by certain strains of hpv. (In fact girls who wait until their 20s to begin having sex reduce their risk for developing cervical cancer as an adult by 800%. Source: Family Planning News, June 1992 and OB/GYN News 1993, also see AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY'S WEBSITE UNDER CERVICAL CANCER).

Is it a loving thing to expose your partner, yourself or a future child to these risks? I realize that when feelings are strong, the last thing you want to think about is waiting or even worse listening to an adult asking you to wait, but the truth is that having sex is something for married people to do because married people have made a pledge to be faithful to each other and to take care care of any child that results from sexual intimacy.

Having sex at a teenager is like pretending to be married when you're not. It may seem fulfilling at the time, but the inherent dishonesty and lack of real maturity usually bears bitter fruits sooner or later. This isn't just my opinion, but the real experience of millions of teenagers and former teena gers who "knew" they were "in love" and thought they were "protected."

Married people enjoy sex the most physically and emotionally because the sexual act takes place in the context of a publicly made pledge which is honored by the vast majority of those who do marry. The children of married parents do far better, on average, health-wise, in school, emotionally, and economically. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Well, these are my initial thoughts. I'd look forward to hearing your thoughtful response.

Sincerely,
Richard Panzer,
Dir, Free Teens USA

hello my name is Jerica...

I have recently been to your website looking for answers...i haven't always been this depressed, i have been sexually abused for 7 years and no matter what my family and i do someone always does it. i haven't looked into a sexual relationship for "love" i have all the love i need at home. How many of your volunteers have been through what over half of the world has been through....how many know what it's like to hate the opposite sex? If you don't know what its like how can you help prevent what happens every day? It's a battle no one will win because teens are going to do it whether you or anyone else wants them to or not. I guess i have one main question.....how are you going to keep every teen from this when its impossible?

Jerica

Richard's comment:

Dear Jerica,,

The questions you ask about sexual abuse and "how many know what it's like to hate the opposite sex?" express so much pain, I hardly know how to respond. I wish I could erase all the things that have been done to you, but I can't. (What was done to you is illegal. Those who did these things should be prosecuted for their crimes. I advise you to talk to your school guidance counselor or another responsible adult to get the help and protection you need.)

What I can say is that when people misuse love and sex, bad things happen to them, and to others. This is no secret to you or almost anyone else willing to pay attention. Many teens we have contact with understand this very well. Some of them have made these mistakes and have chosen to stop making them. They understand that the time to experience sexual intimacy will come again--later.

Other teens have not yet made these mistakes and see no reason to start. They understand that sex and love can be beautiful when done at the right time with someone who is truly willing to be committed to you, and willing to declare their love for you publicly, as in marriage.

Some say sex is just for fun, so why not? Some say sex is something I take to get pleasure, or because I might as well since all my friends say they're doing it. Some are just confused because they've never received real, selfless love from anyone who didn't expect something in return. But why are most of them so unhappy?

I think the reasons many teens do have sex is because they think it's a way to be 'grown-up.' Since you have to have some 'grown-up' body parts to have sex, they think that doing it will somehow prove that they are mature. Or they are so hungry for affection they will settle for a few crumbs of love even if they have to give away their bodies.

Jerica, you say, "its a battle no one will win because teens are going to do it whether you or anyone else wants them to or not. i guess i have one main question.....how are you going to keep every teen from this when its impossible?" Well, you're right, no one, me included, has the power to "keep every teen from this." To be honest, there are too many adults who profit from teen sex, from using teens for sex personally or from making money from it.

All we can do is talk honestly about these issues. There are many teens who understand exactly what we're trying to say, and just need some encouragement to go the right way in their lives. Sometimes the ones who argue the most with us are the ones who most want to receive an answer.

Thank you for sharing some of your painful heart with us. I hope we hear from you again. Please contact us if you need help to get away from your dangerous situation, or if you just want to talk.

Sincerely,
Richard

Dear Free Teens,

I have to admit one thing, I am not a virgin, but I have chosen to stop having sex until I am more mature and more prepared to handle it. I hope the link on my page to your site will bring some traffic to your site. If it helps other teens to make the right choices then I am glad I could help.

I think what you are doing with your site is great. I hope that you can keep it going.

Mark
Dear Free Teens,

Abstinence is a real good thing, granted. But I'm not seeing any information on how to use a condom, or emergency contraception, or what the various venereal diseases look like. What do you have to offer the children who are active other than the verbiage to "sit on it"? Doesn't seem very realistic to me, my abstinent friends. I would go so far as to say that you are making the problem worse by not offering this other information.

Sincerely,
Christina K., Chicago, IL

Richard's comment:

Dear Christina,

There are deeper issues than whether to promote contraceptives or not. Does uncommitted sex, with or without "protection," lead to lasting love? How do the millions of fatherless children born each year feel about having little or no dad in their lives? Hormones are not new, nor uncontrollable, even though the big bucks media profits from people thinking so.

The real issues are - what does it mean to love somebody and is having uncommitted sex a loving thing to do? What do you think? Christina, our website does contain an update on the effectiveness of contraceptives in preventing pregnancy. As you can see from the update which is based on a 1999 article from the Journal of the American Medical Association, birth control is most effective when used by married couples and least effective when used by "cohabiting and other unmarried women, .. among adolescents and women in their 20s. For example, adolescent women who are not married but cohabiting (living with boyfriend) experience a failure rate of about 47% in the first year of contraceptive use, while the 12 month failure rate among married women 30 and older is only 8%."* On average 1 in 5 teen couples having sex using condoms will become pregnant within one year. 1 in 3 will have a pregnancy within 2 years. 1 in 2 will have a pregancy within 3 years.

Sex with latex condoms is not "safe" and not "protected." Regarding sexually transmitted diseases, using latex condoms provides significant partial risk reduction for some diseases, and little or none for others such as genital herpes and the human papilloma virus (hpv) which are spread by skin-to-skin contact throughout the genital area not just the part covered by a condom. HPV causes 95% of all cervical cancer which kills more than 150,000 women each year. Girls who wait until their 20s to begin having sex reduce their risk for developing cervical cancer by 800%. The health benefits of delaying sex are obvious! You'll have to make your own decisions, Christina. Hope this helps you to see another side of the story you may not have been presented with.

Thanks for causing us to discuss this important topic since there is so much misinformation.

Richard Panzer

Dear Free Teens,

I recently lost my virginity last week and...it wasn't what I expected. The guy was a guy I have been with for the past 2 years, but our relationship is purely physical. I'm not saying the sex wasn't great, but I felt very dirty afterwards. I read your article on the top 13 reasons why teenagers have sex and one of the reasons was "loneliness." I think that's why I have been with this guy so long is because I've been out of it lately, or the past 2 years. Thanks for posting that article. Now I know I'm not the only one who had sex for that. I do not regret it, though.

C.B., 15, WA state.

Richard's comment:

Dear C.B,

Thanks for sharing your heart with us. I wish I could reach out to you through your screen and give you a big hug!

Please know that even though you've made a mistake, you CAN make a new beginning. There is a young man alive on the earth somewhere who will love you someday not just for your body, but for your whole being. It would be best for you to save yourself for him so that you don't bring a lot of baggage into your future marriage.

You are special. Don't sell yourself short!

Feel free to contact us if you have any thoughts, struggles, or questions! Also, if you don't mind, we would like to put your email on a new message board for teens we're creating. Would that be okay?

All the best,
Richard Panzer

Dear Free Teens,

Hi. I was looking at your website. I think I originally came across it when i was making a documentary on generation gaps and sex in this generation. Anyways, I'm 17 years old. I totally respect your views and I admire your mission. I definitely think that teens need to hear this stuff. We get all too much influence from TV and other media. Too often teens have low self esteem...or only hear the messages sent out by companies that sell sex. Anyway, my comment is that your ideas are great but I think the way they are presented could be improved. To most teenagers, it doens't seem realistic. It seems like adults and some kids from a small town in idaho saying "don't ahve sex". Or at least that's what I can see from my position as a born and bred new yorker. It seems like a more flexible and realistic approach would help kids relate more. In my personal experience, when i was young I alwyas thought I'd not ahve sex until marriage. Or rather, i didnlt really think about it. But then, and this is true for a lot of people, once I found myself ina serious relationship the rules changed. I started to understand more of the reasons to have sex. These weren't media fed reasons or animalistic reasons, but reasons that came from my heart. Real, serious reasons why adults and responsible, sensible caring people would choose to have sex.

There always questions. Lots of thoughts go through the teenagers mind.. "I feel ready. We love each other." But then you also think "we're young." and life changes so much. I think teenagers need solid short term goals. The thing I've said to myself for now is that I'm not going to lose my virginitybwhie I'm still in high school. This is because life will change so much afyter high school that I can reevaluate things then. But I can't amke decisions for a life coming up I know nothing about. I think that if teenagers have these goals such as "I wnlt ave sex before marriage" they seem too remote. For a lot of teens, sex is an immediate issue and it needs immediate solutions.

I think immediate goals are easier for teens to relate to. It may sound bad that my only goal is to maintain my virginity for the rest of high school which is only 6 months...but that definitely does not mean that as soon as a graduate I'll be having sex. It just means that once my life situations have changed I cna re-evaluate my relationships and my life and make another short term goal, or maybe a longer term goal. Maybe I'll say to myself "I'm not mature enough to amke this decision yet..I should experience another year of college and life on my own...and thenr eevaluate". I think that because sex is such an immediate moment thing, it needs to be dealt with in such a manner. For me, when The thought of having sex is crossing my mind saying I shoudl remain pure until marriage" means very little..it seems so remote and unreal. But if I say "I'm not ready to make this decision/take this step now". It works better for me. It's a fact and a decision I can feel and deal with right now.

Anyway, that's my story and those are my ideas. I don't know if you'll use them, but I thought that you could possibly influence a larger group of teens with a different approach. Thanks

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Dear Free Teens,

My name is Tara and I am 15 years old. I came upon your website by chance and was quite intrigued. I have decided to help out in this program in anyway that I can. Recently this year, at my first prom, I was dumped because I refused to have sex with my date. Later he accused me of having sex with 4 other people at once and it ruined my reputation horribly. I was lucky to have been moving out of that area anyway, but I was completely embarrassed and humiliated there after the rumor was passed around the school. I was blockaded in the school by girls who threatened me and my friend, who was supposively involved in this act I never committed. No one would believe me that I hadn't done anything in that sort with anyone. I read how these volunteers changed lives and would love to do the same, to help change the teen society and make sex an experience they WANT to wait for. Please tell me how I can help. Thanks for your time and good luck with the program!

Sincerely,
Tara M., MD

Dear Free Teens

Hello. My name is Brinda . I live in Bayou La Batre, Alabama . I read your Newsletter ever time it comes. And each time I am really inspired and my hope for this world is renewed. I just want to say that I think we are winning the battle against teen sex slowly but surely we are edging toward victory.

As a teen I thank you for shining a light of hope on my generation and showing someone cares and believes in us and has a hope in us for the future for the future. I also Thank you for your hard work and dedication toward your movement. And Thank you also for standing up for the values that many in our society lack today. Best of luck in the new year and keep up the good work.

Thank you fullheartedly,

Brinda

Dear Free Teens

My name is Darlene. I am a 20-year-old friend of Straight Talk. That's how I found you, through their website. Your website is great. I very often do wonder if I will ever get married, but I do understand that's not my worry. It's just tough not to think about and not to dream about. My parents have told me that they had their best sex after they were married, so I decided why waste it before marriage? I am a virgin. Very proud of that.

The toughest place to keep your morals intact is college. I am not away to school, but I still find it hard to keep away from the jokes and pornography (the bar here has hired a pornographic hypnotist and it's been in the school newspaper).
Please keep up with the great work.

Darlene

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