The New York State department of Health has recently reported that nearly 1 million women get pregnant each year before the age of 20. The numbers are increasing daily and according to research done by the department, 2,800 teens are getting pregnant each day. Although these numbers are escalating each year, teens are not embracing methods of contraception.
Furthermore, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) rates are increasing rapidly among college students. Eighty-eight percent of all STIs are contracted between the ages of 20 and 29, while 32 percent are students aged 18 and 19. The main problem with teens not using contraceptives is that they have a mind set of “this will never happen to me.”
There is an increasing amount of concern dealing with the rapid growth of STIs and teenage pregnancies.
So we ask ourselves why? The media is, in part, to blame. From advertisements to music videos, they glamorize and promote sex to sell their products. People are exposed to this at a young age, and being fresh out of high school, and legal, they want to experiment.
Sex is considered a necessity among students. The minute you are found out to be a virgin, it becomes a big deal. “I do it because everybody else does it,” says a college student who wants to remain anonymous. “It’s the trend that everybody is into.”
Not all students are happy with the glamorization of sex in the media. They feel that it is being put out there as something that just happens, and not what it really is: a strong bond between two people. “Sex complicates a relationship,” says Monet Garcia, a freshman at Yuba College. It becomes the basis of a relationship, which pressures one or the other to keep having sex.
Some students feel they should have waited, that they didn’t know about contraceptives or the emotional burden that comes with having sex. “I saw it everywhere; it seemed easy and cool to do,” says a senior at Yuba City High School who would like to remain anonymous for personal reasons. “I figured it would be what TV shows show, but reality hit and it wasn’t all cool.”
Most college students do not see the big deal with not using condoms or any form of contraception. They feel that “all natural” is the best way to go. Students have multiple partners without thinking of the consequences. They feel that if they were to use a condom, their partner would be unsatisfied. They also feel that sex is a way to express emotions that you can not usually show. Isaac Oliver, a first semester Yuba College student, says, “Sex is a very good way to express yourself. I feel it’s good cardio, burns the calories.”
Condoms do not prevent STIs but they decrease the chances by 89 percent. Since 2000, the number of college students who use a condom during sexual activities has decreased.
Education on sex and ways to be safe is becoming more and more available, as well as some college health offices carrying condoms and other contraceptions for students. “10 years ago, you wouldn’t find contraceptives at schools, but times have changed. They are becoming more and more available to students,” says Juan Arvizu, a fourth year returning student at Yuba College. “I feel safe sex is a good thing.”
Until recently, middle and highschools taught sex education once or
twice in a teenager’s school career. Schools didn’t go into detail about sex
and how it affects the individuals engaging in sexual actions.
The only method taught at school would be abstinence, which is the only 100 percent safe way to avoid pregnancy and STIs.
Abstinence has become more and more popular
with the threat of STIs becoming more wide spread. Condom use is increasing at colleges because they are becoming more available without questions. Students feel that when they are with multiple sex partners, using a condom is a must. Nick Pearson said that, “It’s not a big deal, it doesn’t matter but it’s the thing to do.”
There are several ways to obtain contraceptives, such as condoms and birth control pills, or health screenings, such as STI testing and Pap tests. However, Planned Parenthood in Yuba City offers all this for free, no questions asked. Besides providing free condoms at every visit and making patients feel as comfortable as possible, the center provides help and information on abortions, birth control, the morning after pill, as well as information pertaining to all age groups and genders. Planned Parenthood is frequently visited by teens in the Yuba-Sutter area because they offer confidentiality and help teens learn about contraceptives.
Teenagers prefer to go to Planned Parenthood rather than clinics because clinics generally ask for background information.
Contraceptives are being used more frequently on college campuses. Students have changed their opinion on safe sex, saying that unsafe sex is out and safe sex is in.