Utah County health officials: Let's talk about sex

Abstinence education site helps parents have "the talk" with teens.
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It says nothing of birth control. The only "barriers" mentioned are those faced by parents anxious about having – you know, "the talk."

But an abstinence education website — http://talking2teens.utahcounty.gov —launched Tuesday by the Utah County Health Department does contain frank talk about the sexual habits of teenagers.

"Studies show that parents have the greatest influence on their child's sexual behavior – more than their friends or the media – but they often avoid talking to their children about sex because it's uncomfortable or they feel unprepared," said county health educator Sofia Ybarra in a prepared statement.

From 2006 to 2011, 1,269 teenage girls between the ages of 14 to 18 delivered babies in Utah County, 75 percent of them out-of-wedlock, according to county health officials. Many of these mothers reported wishing they had received more education about sex than what was taught at school, officials say.

The "Talking2Teens" website, offered in English and Spanish, cost about $3,200 and was funded with a federal grant. It is a self-paced guide designed for parents of teenagers, but also has information about how early to broach the subject.

"Conversations about love, relationships, and sex could begin as early as six and should continue through the teenage years," it recommends.

True to its "abstinence only" focus, the site contains no information about different forms of birth control, about which work best or how to obtain them.

But there's also detailed information about the consequences of premarital sex, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including national statistics that show:

• Almost one out of every three ninth graders has had sex at least once.

• The United States continues to have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the developed world.

• One out of seven high school students reports having had sex with four or more partners.

• One in every four teen girls has a sexually transmitted disease.

For more information, call 801-851-7095, or email talking2teens.utahcounty@gmail.com.

kstewart@sltrib.com —

Help for parents

Abstinence only based website > http://talking2teens.utahcounty.gov

For more information, call 801-851-7095, or email talking2teens.utahcounty@gmail.com.