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Safe sex ed sites

Many parents wisely use controls on their computers to filter what their children and teens can see online.

But when it comes to sex ed, how can you allow your child to find accurate, age appropriate information, while blocking out porn and inappropriate images and content?

Here are several options for savvy parents and teens. Parents, check the sites out--with an open mind--and consider unblocking them from your controls. Teens, these are sites where you can get medically accurate information from reliable sources, so you can make the most safe and informed choices for yourself.

Either way, these sites and services can keep you "in the know" and making better and safer choices.

Reputable online sites

• Scarleteen (scarleteen.com): Scarleteen is the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online. The site provides information, message boards for questions, and referrals.

• Sex, etc. (sexetc.org): Sex, etc. is a “by teens, for teens” site run out of Rutgers University. It provides information on topics like health, relationships, LGBTQ, alcohol and drugs. They also have comics, quizzes, videos and a magazine published four times a year.

• Go Ask Alice (goaskalice.com): Go Ask Alice is run out of Columbia University Health Services. It has information on general health, fitness, alcohol and drugs, as well as sexuality and relationships. It provides information through question and answer archives.

• That’s Not Cool (thatsnotcool.com): That’s Not Cool is an interactive website that focuses on digital communication, including topics such as textual harassment, pic pressure, privacy problems and rumors. It features video vignettes and the ability for youth to create their own avatar and interact with scenarios.

• Bedsider (bedsider.org): Bedsider is a site devoted to birth control. There are links to finding free birth control, to help you decide which method is right for you, and a reminder service for when to take your pill, change your patch, visit the doctor, etc.

Text information

• Sex-Ed Loop (sexedloop.sexetc.org): A project of Sex, etc., Sex-Ed Loop is a website with general information for everyone and some information specific to Chicago area teens. You can text “sexedloop” to 61827 to receive weekly sex-ed info on your cellphone. I got my first one last week. Data rates apply.

• In Case You’re Curious (plannedparenthood.org/rocky-mountains): This service is run through Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and allows you to text in questions anonymously and get accurate information texted back within 24 hours. It does not diagnose conditions or give personal medical advice. To sign up, text ICYC to 66746. Text message rates apply.

STD info and help

• GYT (itsyoursexlife.com/gyt): An MTV-run site with the mission to reduce the spread of STDs through information. Includes information about what you need to know, how to protect yourself, how and where to get tested, talking to partners and more.

• inSPOT (inspot.org): InSPOT provides resources about STD testing. They also provide a free, anonymous e-card service to let partners, past and present, know if you’ve been diagnosed with an STD so they know to get tested.

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