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Alcohol education key to sexual health

Counselling teenagers on the ill effects of alcohol abuse make them more careful and informed about their sexual health.

Alcohol education key to sexual health

Counselling teenagers on the ill effects of alcohol abuse make them more careful and informed about their sexual health. Adolescents are at high risk of sexual health problems such as unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections mainly due to lack of education. To better understand gender differences in how young people think about sex, researchers from America identified 10 groups with 35 girls and boys in each group, all of them aged between 12 and 16 years. Five groups were all girls, and the rest were all boys. The teens were asked to attend a sexual health counseling session cum discussion, located at a socially deprived area with a high rate of teen pregnancy. Each group discussed four scenarios: a couple in which the girl doesn't want to have sex but the boy does; a boy who is being tormented by his friends because he doesn't want to have sex with his girlfriend; a popular girl who is reputed to be having sex with lots of older boys; and a girl who is placed in a situation where she is expected to have sex after her two friends pair off with three boys visiting them at a sleepover. The researchers found stark differences in how boys and girls talked about these situations. The girls showed a much more complex understanding of the situations and exhibited empathy for the people involved, including the boys. But the boys only discussed how the male in the situation was thinking, not demonstrating any empathy with the female partner in the relationship. None of the girls used negative, aggressive or coercive language when discussing sex, the boys did. For example, some said that a boy whose girlfriend slept around would have the right to "slap her in the face" and that exerting pressure on a girl to have sex is not proper rape. Boys also talked about getting girls drunk so they would be more likely to have sex with them. The above findings indicate that alcohol education is a key element of sex education and help young people realise the vulnerability to sexual ill health alcohol abuse can create. The researchers suggested that health care professionals who work with adolescents should make young males think about how girls feel and to empathize with them, while helping young women to develop the social skills they need to resist pressure from boys and from their peers to have sex.
Journal of Clinical Nursing
November 2008
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