Adolescent Sexual Health
Becoming a sexually healthy adult is a key developmental task of adolescence. Sexual health encompasses sexual development and reproductive health and such characteristics as the ability to develop and maintain meaningful interpersonal relationships; appreciate one’s own body; interact with both genders in respectful and appropriate ways; and express love and affection in ways consistent with one’s own values.
Adolescents should be encouraged to delay sexual behaviors until they are physically, cognitively, and emotionally ready for mature sexual relationships and their consequences. They should receive education about intimacy; sexual limit setting; resistance to social, media, peer, and partner pressure; the benefits of abstinence from intercourse; and prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections/diseases. Because research studies indicate that many adolescents are or will become sexually active, they should receive support and assistance in developing the skills to evaluate their readiness for mature sexual relationships as well as prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections/diseases.
Parents/adults can encourage adolescent sexual health by providing accurate information and education about sexuality, fostering responsible decision-making skills, offering support and guidance in exploring and affirming personal values, and modeling healthy sexual attitudes and behaviors. Society can enhance adolescent sexual health by providing access to comprehensive sexuality education; affordable, sensitive, and confidential reproductive health care services; and education, enrichment, and employment opportunities.
Source: Significant portions of this text were borrowed from the Position Statements of the Sexuality Information and Education Center of the United States (SIECUS).
Adopted May 2008