Sexually Transmitted Diseases

  • The age of consent (age at which it is legal to have sex) in the state of Washington is 16.  The age of consent is 17 or 18 in many other states—and no states are lower than 16.  Having sex with anyone younger can lead to a charge of statutory rape.
  • STD’s are also spread to children by child molesters. 
Statistics
  • Nearly 1 in 4 teenage girls ages 14-19 have a sexually transmitted infection, according to the 2008 report by the CDC (Centers for Disease  Control).  The sexually transmitted diseases include HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, Chlamydia,
Many girls may not know they even have a disease, or that they are passing it to their sex partners.  In addition, these girls are at risk for the serious health effects of untreated STD’s, including infertility and cervical cancer.  (ABC News, March 2008,
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ReproductiveHealth/story?id=4429246&page=1 
  • A Hidden Epidemic.  The CDC calls STD’s a hidden epidemic.  18 million Americans get a new STD every year, and 2/3 of them are under the age of 25, representing 8-10,000 teens per day.  About 25% of American teens say they have had sex before the age of 16.  This is an alarming, disproportionate statistic among our youth.   According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):  
    • 46% of high school students had ever had sexual intercourse, and 14% of high school students had had four or more sex partners during their life.  (2009)  
    • 34% of currently sexually active high school students did not use a condom during the last sexual intercourse.  (2009)  
    • Young people in the United States use alcohol and other drugs at high rates.  Adolescents are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such  as unprotected sex, when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.   
    • 22% of high school students who had sexual intercourse during the past three months drank alcohol or used drugs before last sexual intercourse. (2009)
    • Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy.  No protective method is 100% effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD or pregnancy.
    • HIV/STD prevention education should be developed with the active involvement of parents, be locally determined, and be consistent with community values.  It should address the needs of youth who are not engaging in sexual intercourse, as well as youth who are currently sexually active, while ensuring that all youth are provided with effective education to protect themselves and others from HIV infection and STDs now and lifelong.   For more information, see CDC’s Healthy Youth, Sexual Risk Behaviors, at
      http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/index.htm
  • There are some 15 million new STD cases each year in the United States, and they occur among all ages and walks of life. Some are incurable, although all can be treated.

What Parents Can Do
  • Teach your children values at a very young age, and set limits which will make them feel loved and secure.  Be honest with your children about your feelings about pre-marital sex.
  • Develop and maintain a close relationship with each of your children from an early age.  Studies show that youth who are sexually promiscuous are, generally speaking, not as well-adjusted as those who are not sexually active.  
  • Remember—you have a great influence on your children.  Study the critical information available on STD’s, and teach your children accordingly.  The average age of a girl’s first sexual intercourse is age 15.
  • Remove inappropriate media from your home where the language and images are very sexual, provocative, and also degrading to women.
Local Organizations