adolescent

What Is Healthy Sexual Development?

Depending on your view, the answer to that question might seem really obvious or very tricky and hazy.

At a recent conference I was part of in London, Alan McKee presented a talk which included a piece published in the International Journal of Sexual Health (2010, 22(1), Healthy sexual development: a multidisciplinary framework for research. What McKee and his colleagues determined to be the core parts of healthy sexual development had me jumping up and down in my seat with joy (literally: I may have disturbed my fellow attendees with my bouncing). It summed up the things we try to support, encourage and inform our users with and keep core at Scarleteen so well, and so much of what I think -- after many years of thinking hard about and working with these issues, and being fully and broadly immersed in them with a very diverse population -- truly is central to healthy sexual development.

I'm delighted to have permission to excerpt and reprint this framework here.

The Scarleteen Do-It

Feeling low about your body and how it looks? Thinking about, or already doing, some drastic things to try and change it? You're not alone. But you can get to a better place with your body and how you feel about it without doing anything that keeps you feeling just as bad, or puts your physical or mental health at risk. Here's some ways to ditch the die(t)s and go for the happy, healthy do's.

That Guy

Anyone who knows me or who knows anything about me usually knows that my pre-teen and teen years were incredibly difficult. I dealt with neglect and abuse in my family, starting from about the time I was 10. I was sexually assaulted twice before I even became a teenager. I was queer. I was suicidal and was a self-injurer. I struggled to find safe shelter sometimes. Few people seemed to notice, even though after I gave up trying to use my words, I still used my eyes to try and tell them constantly.

I'm 40 now, and in a whole lot of ways, I felt older at 16 than I feel now. Some days, I am truly gobsmacked that I survived at all, let alone with my heart and mind intact and rich.

A lot of why I survived is about having gotten support.

Normative Sexual Development and Your Child

This is a guest entry from Dr. Ruth Neustifter -- who we know here at Scarleteen as Dr. Ruthie -- for the month-long blog carnival to help Support Scarleteen. Can we get your support?

I remember it very clearly. I was a senior in high school and we were all noshing together in the lunch room when Darla, who was two years my junior, blurted out that she had seen her boyfriend naked and that they were planning to have sex soon. It would be her first time, although we thought he probably had more experience. ”I sure hope it gets smaller before it goes in, because my hole isn’t that big!” she declared and we all laughed together.

A Birth Control Pill Five by Five

Sensei Martini
asks:
I want to begin taking the birth control pill for the first time. Is it possible for me to start taking my first birth control pill on the SECOND day of my period? I won't be having unprotected sex. But if I start taking the birth control pill on the 2nd day is it less affective? And also after taking the birth control pill for a series of time, when is it 95% affective?...

'American Youth' Photo Book

A new photo book entitled 'American Youth' was recently released. This glossy, 240-page photographic document features snapshots and extended photo essays on young people from all across the United States, from all walks of life: races and ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and more. The subjects' commonality is their age (those who come of age this decade a.k.a. people born between 1982-1991) and their country of residence.

In which we're reminded, again, that abstinence pledges don't work.

From PEDIATRICS Vol. 123 No. 1 January 2009, pp. e110-e120 (doi:10.1542/peds.2008-0407): Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers, Janet Elise Rosenbaum, PhD, AM; Health Policy PhD Program, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.