Someone had told me Scarleteen was the best place on the internet for sexual health info, and I see now that they were completely right. It's the scariest feeling in the world to not know what's going on with your own body, and even worse to feel like you have no one you can talk to about it. I am thanking Jeebus, the Easter Bunny and Hare Krishna that people like you exist. - Brigitte
Eleven years have gone by since I first came to Scarleteen as a very frightened, very lost sixteen year-old who had nowhere else to go and was ready to give up altogether.
I don't remember now what I wrote or what I asked for. But I will never forget seeing a response from Heather which read "I believe you, and I care."
This summer, Arianna, who is one of our readers, wrote and produced a play at her college about sexuality which also included a fundraising ask for Scarleteen.
This month, Marlena, another Scarleteen user, surprised us with this incredible video she made as part of Project for Awesome, to do what she could to help support what we do and express her experience of what Scarleteen can offer to young people, particularly in a world which is so often unsupportive not just of youth sexuality, but of youth as a whole.
Things slow down a bit here around the holidays. So, this is one of the main times of each year when I try to review all the content we have at the site and map out articles I, and the volunteers, feel we should aim to write or have written to add in the next year.
To do that, I look at the running notes I keep from observing what our users ask for in direct services and our social media; places where they ask for things and I don't feel we have just the right pieces to refer them to, or what we'd want to be able to give when it comes to on-site resources.
Happy New Year to you from all of us at Scarleteen!
Nearly a month into 2010, we hope your new year has been and continues to be happy, healthy, and all-around awesome. Have you set any New Year Resolutions this year? We have and would like to share them with you!
Over 1000 Scarleteen users are doing just that! Since December 19th and as of yesterday, 1001 visitors to the Scarleteen website have voted in the poll: Which of these is the best sexuality-based New Year's resolution for you? A lot of people will choose resolutions, such as exercising more, getting better grades, and quitting smoking. Those are all noteworthy goals, and big accomplishments when realized, but how about aiming to exercise safer sex all the time, acing a “quiz” of your own anatomy, and quitting bad body image and sexual shame? By setting a sexuality-related resolution, you’re focusing on an important part of you that often doesn’t get the attention (or praise!) it deserves.
THE RESULTS! We’re going to share the results here along with some recommended reading and some teen sex and sexuality-related statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, the Bureau of Justice, Outproud/Oasis, and ChildTrends Databank. All text and statistics following the “Did you know?” heading are directly quoted from the page on what Scarleteen Is.
BE HEARD! In addition to casting their vote, many Scarleteeners have also explained their choice. We encourage you to scroll down to read their resolutions after crunching the numbers.
The poll offered 13 sexuality-based New Years resolutions to choose from: Improving body image and ditching sexual shame came out on top with 18% of all votes. Enjoying oneself more got second place with 14% of the vote, while using birth control or safer sex practices better and seeking out truly desired sexual relationships tied for third place with 11% each. Here is a more specific and all-inclusive break down of the results:
1. To improve my body image and/or ditch sexual shame 18% (182 votes)
Did you know? The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat and between 5-10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or borderline conditions.
One author reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen (Brumberg, 1997).
2. To enjoy myself more 14% (144 votes)
Did you know? For many teens, sexual information is more often given in a context of sexual entertainment, peer-to-peer bragging or flirtation, and these approaches not only often result in inaccurate information, but in enabling a context of sexual commodity, shame or pressure around sexuality, as well as sexual stereotypes and cultural ideals or collective cultural fears. This given, our approach at Scarleteen is to be friendly and personable, rather than cold or clinical, but to come to sexual education and information in a professional, respectful way, with care for diverse boundaries and viewpoints.
For further reading, we recommend: 10 of the Best Things You Can Do for Your Sexual Self (at Any Age) and Yield for Pleasure
3. To better use birth control or safer sex practices 11% (106 votes)
Did you know? Of the 18.9 million new cases of STIs each year, 9.1 million (48%) occur among 15-24-year-olds. Although 15-24-year-olds represent only one-quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half of all new STIs each year. Half of new HIV infections (about 20,000) each year occur among youth aged 15-24.
Of the approximately 750,000 teen pregnancies that occur each year, 82% are unintended.
3. To seek out the kind of sexual relationships I truly want 11% (113 votes)
Did you know? By their 18th birthday, six in 10 teenage women and more than five in 10 teenage men have had heterosexual intercourse. More than one-half of all teens ages 15 to 19 report engaging in oral sex (55 percent of males and 54 percent of females in 2002).
For further reading, we recommend: Ready or Not? The Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist, Supermodel: Creating & Nurturing Your Own Best Relationship Models, and Sexual Negotiation for the Long Haul
5. To learn more about my own sexual body and self 10% (105 votes)
Did you know? Knowing, too, that the reality of the way youth most often gets sexuality information -- peer-to-peer -- we do our level best to both moderate discussion to help aid youth in learning how to inform each other better, and do what we can to empower youth to research smartly, ask questions, avoid stereotyping, and communicate with and educate one another with sensitivity and compassion.
For further reading, we recommend: Innies and Outies: The Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus and More, Innies and Outies: The Penis, Testes and More, and With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body