The Sex Lives of Teenagers: Revealing the Secret World of Adolescent Boys and Girls

Author and adolescent psychiatrist, Lynn Ponton, M.D., unveils plenty of daunting scenarios in The Sex Lives of Teenagers. On these pages, we meet Naomi, a pregnant teen who wants to have her baby; Lara, who is infected with HIV; Tom, who is hooked on pornographic videos; and Angie, who was sexually assaulted after getting drunk at a party. Ponton also tells stories of teens struggling with sexual identity, curious about normal sexual function, and dealing with pressure to have sex before they feel ready. In addition, sprinkled throughout are the voices of parents who struggle to cope with their teens' problems and, for the most part, seek to offer guidance and support, though not always successfully. At times, Ponton seems to dwell on the dark and disturbing side of teens and sex: the boy who is sexually assaulted by a priest; the mother who calls her HIV-infected daughter a slut; the teen who discovers that his father sexually harasses female employees. Some of these situations may discourage parents, who have educated themselves about more common situations and who simply can't believe these types of things could happen to their children. The best course of action might be for parents to read this book together with their teens, and to use some of the stories as jumping-off points for discussion. As Ponton makes clear in the opening chapter, all teens have sex lives--whether or not they are sexually active. And despite the sexually charged culture teens are exposed to daily, sex remains a difficult topic for parents and teens to discuss openly. The Sex Lives of Teenagers may be just the tool to help parents open the door to that discussion.--Virginia Smyth