A recent story in the Springfield News Leader revealed a surprising and alarming new statistic. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says that there were 57 cases of sexually transmitted diseases reported in children from ages 10 to 14 years old in 2008 and 2009. This is up from 30 reported cases in 2004 through 2005. The area in question is north-central Missouri, with no statistics being released for other areas.
This is alarming for many reasons, and for parents reading this story, many more worrisome things likely come to mind. First, the idea of a children in this age group being sexually active is ridiculous. They are years away from the mental maturity needed to understand sex and of course, not able to make good decisions regarding safe sexual encounters.
And, then there is the problem of understanding how these children were exposed in the first place. The report did not specify how the minors become exposed, through incest, rape or by having sexual relations with others their ages. With budget cuts creating problems for clinics which provide free testing services, it seems likely that we’ll hear more of this in the future.
What can you do?
Parents reading this might be advised to speak with their children about sex, the correct context for sexual relations and why it is important to wait. And, if you look at teen pregnancy rates you'll know that it's not enough to just scare them. Instead, try framing a discussion about sex in ways that make sense to children. When they are young, create a moral foundation by focusing on sex as something that happens betweens moms and dads. Later, clue them into the physical and emotions problems sex can bring into one's life.
Books can help parents talk about sex
Talking about sex with children can be daunting, but there are books that can help. A great one is “How Can We Talk About That: Overcoming Personal Hangups So We Can Teach Kids The Right Stuff About Sex and Morality,” by Jane DaVita Woody. You can pick up a copy at the nearest Barnes and Noble or see if ABC books at 2109 N. Glenstone. (417)831-3523.