The One Simple Thing Every Parent Can Do To Help Keep Their Teenager Safe

If you get triggered by morality, don’t read any further because your heart will be palpitating by the time you get finished.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released an interesting report uninterestingly titled Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9–12 — United States and Selected Sites, 2015.

Across the 18 violence-related risk behaviors nationwide, the prevalence of 16 was higher among gay, lesbian, and bisexual students than heterosexual students and the prevalence of 15 was higher among students who had sexual contact with only the same sex or with both sexes than students who had sexual contact with only the opposite sex. Across the 13 tobacco use-related risk behaviors, the prevalence of 11 was higher among gay, lesbian, and bisexual students than heterosexual students and the prevalence of 10 was higher among students who had sexual contact with only the same sex or with both sexes than students who had sexual contact with only the opposite sex. Similarly, across the 19 alcohol or other drug use-related risk behaviors, the prevalence of 18 was higher among gay, lesbian, and bisexual students than heterosexual students and the prevalence of 17 was higher among students who had sexual contact with only the same sex or with both sexes than students who had sexual contact with only the opposite sex. This pattern also was evident across the six sexual risk behaviors. The prevalence of five of these behaviors was higher among gay, lesbian, and bisexual students than heterosexual students and the prevalence of four was higher among students who had sexual contact with only the same sex or with both sexes than students who had sexual contact with only the opposite sex. No clear pattern of differences emerged for birth control use, dietary behaviors, and physical activity

I know you didn’t read that borderline gibberish. This is what the report says:

Seat Belt Use: Opposite-sex-active (OSA) teens are 143 percent more likely to never or rarely wear a seat belt than virginal peers. Same-sex/bisexual-active (SS/BA) teens are 317 percent more likely than virginal peers.

Passenger with a Drinking Driver: OSA teens are 94 percent more likely to ride with a driver who’s been drinking than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 115 percent more likely than virginal peers.

Dating Violence: OSA teens are 260 percent more likely to experience some form of physical violence in dating relationships than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 683 percent more likely than virginal peers.

Smokes Daily: OSA teens are 3,300 percent more likely to smoke daily than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 9,500 percent more likely than virginal peers.

Ever Binge Drank: OSA teens are 337 percent more likely to ever binge drink than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 375 percent more likely than virginal peers.

Pot Use: OSA teens are 336 percent more likely to be currently using marijuana than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 483 percent more likely than virginal peers.

Ever Injected an Illegal Drug: OSA teens are 500 percent more likely to have ever injected a non-prescription drug than virginal peers. SS/BA teens are 2,333 percent more likely than virginal peers.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the same risk taking and systematic deceit that accompanies teenage sexual activity flows into other activities. But, sadly, it is. As a parent of three kids, I never cease to be amazed by parents of tweens and young teens, knowingly or not, actively encourage sexual experimentation at an early age. Many have the belief that “all the kids are doing it” — which is both empirically wrong and morally corrupt — and appear to be more concerned about their child being left out of something all their friends are doing than they are about the long term emotional and physical health of the child.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers but the one thing that every parent, no matter their financial status or education, can give their child is the gift of a healthy sense of sexuality. Of not fearing it but also teaching them that your body is not Six Flags, that sexual experience is neither a game nor a spectator sport, and that chastity is a virtue to be cherished, not something to be ashamed of.