Teen Sexuality Issues

By Erica Loop
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While it may seem that dealing with teen sexuality issues is an uncomfortable subject, the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children website note that parents are teens’ primary go-to source for information and support. From dating and relationships to gender identity issues, an array of issues exists that parents should be knowledgeable about when it comes to teens and sex.

The Media

According to the experts at the Healthy Children website teens may get a skewed version of sexuality via the media regarding sex, dating and romance. Issues surrounding safe, responsible sex often seem glossed over or lacking in media portrayals of teen and adult sexual situations. In light of the often carefree, irresponsible media treatment of sex that glorifies casual sex, parents should use the sexual content on TV, movies and the Internet as the basis to have open discussion on this topic. Ask your teen what he thinks about issues as the media portrays them, and then give your own guidance.


A primary issue teens face about their sexuality is that of pressure. This could be pressure a romantic partner exerts or peer pressure for your child to fit in with what everyone else is seemingly doing, making the teen years confusing when it comes to sex. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that when parents talk to their teen about sex, parents should emphasize that no one has the right to pressure any teen into having sex. Additionally, it is crucial for parents to help their teen know that it is never acceptable to pressure anyone else into having sex.

Gay and Lesbian Teens

The teen years are a time of great discovery, when children are beginning to explore who they really are. This may lead to discussions about sexual orientation. Although learning that your adolescent is gay may not be easy for many parents, show your child that you accept who he is to help alleviate some of his confusion and anxiety. Do not allow your feelings or worries to shadow your child's fears. Make sure he knows how much you support him and that your feelings about him have not changed.

Abstinence and Birth Control

Speaking to your teen about abstinence and birth control early can potentially head off some risky behaviors and help your child to understand issues about her own sexuality. Two out of every five women will get pregnant before the age of 20, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Discussing abstinence as an option to prevent pregnancy and to avoid sexually transmitted diseases is one way for parents to help their teens protect themselves as teens enter the world of adult relationships. If abstinence does not seem like a realistic option for your teen, make sure she knows about birth control methods and how to protect herself from diseases via the proper use of condoms. Remember, abstinence and birth control aren’t discussions solely for your daughter. This crucial information is also important for boys to have, as well.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.