There is a mountain of media out there promoting a phony philosophy about the joys of recreational sex — casual, risky sexual encounters that do not involve commitment. One need look no farther than the junk advice featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan to see just how pernicious and pervasive recreational sex is.
The time for some straight talk about this sexual trend is long overdue. Every young person needs to know the following three truths:
Truth #1: Recreational sex has produced dramatic increases in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Girls who are sexually active in their early teens are twice as likely to get an STD, and about 40 percent will become pregnant. According to Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician and author, “[a]lmost half of all girls are likely to become infected with an STD during their very first sexual experience.” Girls are far more susceptible to STDs than guys because of the biology of the cervix. And a report, The Cost of Free Love, from Concerned Women for America (CWA), documents the fact that there are now some 49 different STDS.
There is no escaping the fact that we are in the midst of an STD epidemic, with more than 20 million new STD cases every year, the majority of them affecting 15–25-year-olds, and triple the number just six years ago. These inconvenient facts go unreported, and supposedly responsible adults still encourage early sexual activity for girls.
Truth #2: Recreational sex leaves young people alone and lonely. Conventional wisdom says that if you tell a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it. The mantra, heard from middle school onward, is that sex is great recreation, that it’s free and fun. Sadly, many girls don’t recognize the lie until it’s too late. Start sexual activity in your early teens, and you’re likely to have more than a dozen partners (four times higher than those who begin sexual activity in their early twenties). A college coed, talking about her new boyfriend, explained that she would “tell him about two guys I slept with, but not the others.” She added, “Once you get beyond five, it sounds kind of slutty.”
School and college counselors tell us that sexually active girls are three times more likely to be depressed than their abstinent peers. Among the boys, sexually active ones are depressed twice as often. Sexually active teens are more likely than their abstinent counterparts to attempt suicide (girls 15 percent to five percent and boys six percent to one percent). But the most telling fact is that the majority of teenagers, 72 percent of the girls and 55 percent of the boys, acknowledge regret over early sexual activity and wish that they had waited longer to have sex. So much for the cultural mantra that sex is no big deal!