Parents & Teachers: Book Review,
"The Sex Lives of Teenagers: Revealing the Secret World of Adolescent Boys and Girls"
Written by: Dr. Lynn Ponton
Published by: Penguin Putnam, New York: NY (2000)
Review by: Nancy L. Brown, Ph.D.
About fifty percent of America's sixteen-year-olds are having sexual intercourse and our country has the highest rates of any industrialized country for unprotected sexual intercourse, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease. This is not news to most of us. We have heard this kind of startling statistic before. Yet in spite of all the media attention and adult worry about adolescent sexuality, we – as professionals and parents – do not seem to be actually communicating very well about sexuality with adolescents.
In The Sex Lives of Teenagers, Dr. Ponton uses the stories of real teens and parents to gently help us understand that puberty and sexual intercourse are occurring at earlier ages, and that in fact all adolescents have sex lives, whether or not they are sexually active. She also forgives us for not doing a better job in communicating with our teens and suggests that talking about sex is a sexual interaction and, as such, avoiding it is part of our taboo about sex.
Dr. Ponton does not excuse our failure however, and encourages us to be as straightforward as we can be in order to help young people develop into healthy adults. To help us along, Dr. Ponton provides outstanding information and perspectives about dating; puberty; sexual arousal; safety; sex and the internet; intimacy, sexual orientation; pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV); violence; and the impact of parental sexuality on adolescents.
She ends the book with a pep talk and some great resources for teens and parents, including:
- Guidelines for Teens: Thinking about Sexuality and Sexual Risk
- Ten Tips for Parents: Talking with Your Adolescent about Sex
- Aspects of Sexual Identity in Adolescence
- Sexual Readiness: Questions to Ask, my favorite being:
- "Would you be comfortable saying no, even at the last minute?"
- Sexual Activity and Teens: Some Possible Meanings
- Understanding Sexual Abuse: Guidelines for Parents, and
- Ten Tips for Parents: Understanding Your Adolescent's Behavior.
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Reviewed by: Adolescent Interest Group
Last reviewed: August 2013