A Sunday telegraph article on the weekend (27/9/15) headed “chlamydia rampant in teens” featured this advice: “parents may have to step up to the plate with the birds and bees talk after climbing chlamydia rates in teenagers suggest safe – sex education at school is failing our kids”
Experts estimate 500,000 young Australians have Chlamydia. That’s a lot! Chlamydia can in the early stages be treated with a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately if it’s left to its own devices it will slowly cause blockages in the Fallopian tubes to the point where conception becomes difficult and at worst impossible. Chlamydia is now one of the leading causes of infertility in our nation. When I ask the young women who I work with how many of them would at some point like to become a parent, I am encouraged by the response. So many young women have aspirations of motherhood at some stage in the future. Chlamydia has stolen the gift of parenthood from far too many! Despite such high rates of this STI in Australia, many young people are surprised to hear of its prevalence and the way it can affect their future.
I’ve spoken to young women who are concerned that they may have contracted chlamydia and are wanting to have a sexual health check-up but are fearful about talking to their parents.
Our message to parents is clear; provide a place where your child can discuss topics such as STI’s. The greatest tragedy, I believe is for a young person who due to fear hides individual choices they have made from their parents. In their hiding, they miss their window of opportunity to be screened by a health professional and receive treatment for an STI like chlamydia, which can be treated in the early stages. Articles like this one are an excellent tool for parents to begin open conversations with their child that are caring and informed. Every young person deserves the opportunity to have healthy discussions about these topics.
Sexting: Texting, Sending, or Uploading Sexual Images and Messages.
This more common than most parents and educators are wanting to believe and it’s a conversation that needs to be had. Digital footprints are being left yet the future of these images and their impact is yet to be seen. The statistics speak volumes and it is incumbent upon parents and educators to open up the dialogue about the dangers of sexting and how it can negatively affect their future.
In this article from MomsGetReal, they share ‘5 Things Parents should tell their teens about Sexting‘. Have a read and be empowered.
There is a global conversation about the sexualization of girls, it’s there, it’s happening and it needs to be responded to. Thankfully, the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls was formed in response to these expressions of public concern. There is much information in this link and we encourage you to take some time to read it. There is a great section on ‘What Parents Can Do’ which we believe to be especially valuable.
Frustrated, upset, truly exhausted. Have you ever found yourself saying this? “Its like she doesn’t even know I’m speaking!” But you are! Speaking, that is. Words are being said. And what begins as a piece of advice, or an attempt at conversation, because of a void of response very quickly becomes a one-sided, heated dialogue… “You’re just not listening to me!!!”
The purpose of my words today are to stand beside you in that room, whatever room that may be and whisper into your ear…’oh but he does hear you.’
He hears your request to do that chore- and he is learning an acceptable norm.
She hears your request for discourse- and she is learning that she is worth speaking to- that she is worth your words.
He hears your disapproval of his grades, his attitude, that girl, and he is learning that he CAN do better.
Oh, but she does hear you.
But this is where it matters; it’s what happens next that really counts… because he does hear you.
What words do you chose, when the door has been slammed?
What words do you chose, when she has walked away from you?
What words do you chose, when his response was a grunt and not a thankyou.
He does hear you.
Am I pretending that she isn’t at fault? NO
Am I pretending it’s easy? No, I know its not.
But I’ve seen the tears at the end of it all. I’ve seen the way that words frame worlds. Good or bad. I’ve seen the negative prophecies of a parents lived out in the lives of young people with a less than fairy tale ending,
And I’ve seen the worlds of young people come tumbling down, caught in the safety net of the words of encouraging parents who could neverhave known the pain their child was suffering. But knew to speak.
I have a friend- her world could have been framed by the words of her parents-
“We love you”
“You are wonderful”
“You are beautiful”
“You are valuable”
She chose not to allow these words to frame her childhood, nor her teen years or her early adult years- perfect words lost on an imperfect lifestyle.
But words cannot remain lost forever and on a darkened day the words that had been spoken years earlier finally fell on a ready moment and she HEARD.
– That we would know when to speak and when to pray
– That we would know that an encouraging word is for EVERY season, rain, hail or shine. Anger, turmoil or peace.
– That our anger would be kept in check. Our words; a blessing not a weapon.
He does hear you.
Yesterday I spoke to a girl.
At a glance I could see she was beautiful.
Within a minute I could tell she was smart.
Within our conversation I found her to be wonderful.
But before I found all of this I could sense other things…. Lost, broken, searching for answers that wouldn’t come, insecure in a way I’ve seen mirrored in the face of women everywhere, aching for a love that wouldn’t fill her.
As she left me, I was, as I often am, impacted forever.
Hours later I couldn’t wipe her from my memory…. Her words haunted me, as they often do.
Yesterday I cried because there was nothing that I could do… today I write because I realise I can do so much. For her. For all of them.
“If only I could be prettier… then maybe he would want me… I just want to be more like HER- so that he would chose me”
She put into words what is plaguing so many young women. But not in the way that can be cried, and then wiped away. But in a way that sees them obsessing over their body parts, starving their bodies (affecting their concentration today and their health forever) and despite all of this continuing to feel inadequate and insecure.
I said to her “who you are is enough”. I don’t suppose she would have believed me.
What I want to do is write these words on top of every billboard, magazine or movie that has caused women to compare their body to an altered image. But more than that I want the women I know, the good, strong, amazing women I know to wake up and realise that we aren’t that far ahead of this young woman.
Though we walk ahead of her in age, life experience and maturity… we walk beside her when it comes to the struggle with body image.
I’m writing this to tell you- I understand. I know it’s been hard. I know we have been bombarded with images and ideals, expectations and confusing messages that have seen us hating our bodies (or at least part of it) and wanting after other peoples bodies (or at least part of them). I know it’s been rough and I know society has hurt us in this regard. But here it is… we need to grow up. We need to embrace the body that we have been given. We need to stop speaking violent and damaging words over our own bodies… No! You are not “disgusting”! No you are not “repulsive”! You are beautiful! Created in the image of God.
I’m crying as I write this – because for the first time yesterday (I’m not sure how I missed it before) but I saw OUR issues written on the face of this teenage girl. I saw for the first time, that unless we (the women, the ones who should know better) get past this issue… then these girls that I speak to- they never will! Where are their examples of overcoming this issue? Where are the role models they so desperately need? Where are the mothers who are proud of their bodies? Their curves, their stretch marks, their extra skin, their “too big” or “too small” breasts?
I probably wont see this girl again. But if I did, I would tell her.
You are beautiful and so am I
You are strong and I am strong too.
You don’t need to compare yourself to an image on a screen because who you are; body, soul and spirit, will always be far more beautiful than any image could ever be.
These girls, they are young, they are fragile, they are hopeful, they are afraid… they need us.