Month: August 2012

Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #15)

During adolescence, many teens begin to explore their sexuality. For all teens, this is a challenging situation, but for teens who are questioning their sexual orientation, or who identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, it can be a particularly difficult transition.

Did you know?

  • –  Prospective studies indicate that many gay and lesbian youth self-identify at about age 16, and that their first awareness of homosexual attraction occurred at about age 9 for males and 10 for females.
  • –  In one nationwide survey, over 84% of LGBTQ students reported verbal harassment at school.
  • –  Over 39% of all gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth reported being punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon at school because of their sexual orientation, while 55% of transgender youth reported physical attacks because of their gender identity or gender expression.
  • –  LGBTQ youth have an elevated risk for both depression and substance abuse and are up to three times more likely to have reported suicidal ideation than non-LGBTQ youth.
  • –  LGBTQ youth are up to seven times more likely than non-LGBTQ youth to have reported attempting suicide.

This is a crucial time for teens to get support and understanding from their peers, parents, and other adults when they have questions and concerns about sexual orientation.

Try these messages with youth:

“It takes time to figure out who you are. Experiencing or acting on romantic/sexual feelings for someone of the same or different gender does not automatically determine your sexual orientation. Only you determine what is right for you. Understanding and being true to your feelings is not always easy. It happens in a person’s own time.”

It is important to be proud of the person you are becoming and to surround yourself with people that accept you for you. Sometimes this is hard and you worry that telling someone about your feelings will cause problems. There are people that support you and want to help you. Joining clubs or groups can provide you with support and resources as you figure out who you are and how to share that with others.”

Resources for Youth:

  • –  AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide, through education, treatment and care.
  • –  TeensHealth is safe, private place for teens who need honest, accurate information and advice about health, emotions, and life.


Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #14)

Adolescence is a natural time for youth to be interested in and experimenting with sexual intercourse. A combination of hormones, peer and social pressure, and influence from the media make the drive to become sexually active even more intense.

What the Data Tells Us:
The decision for adolescents to become sexually active comes with a lot of responsibility, and often consequences. It is estimated that 48%% of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and 15% of high school students have had four or more sex partners during their life. These rates disproportionally affect African American high school students, who are more likely to have had sexual intercourse (67%) compared to Caucasian (44%) and Hispanic students (52%).

Many young adults are also engaging in oral sex, and consider it to me less risky in terms of health, social, and emotional consequences than vaginal sex. Many of the consequences of adolescent sexual intercourse, such as unintended pregnancy and STI infections, occur because of lack of condom use. Adolescents are much more likely to engage in unprotected sex when under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol. Adolescents who use alcohol or drugs are 5-7 times more likely to have sex and almost one-quarter of currently sexually active students reported using alcohol or drugs during their most recent sexual encounter.

Try These Messages With Youth:

–  “Having sex can be fun and mean a lot of different and positive things to you, but it can also lead to unexpected problems. Having sex can lead to pregnancy or getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also change your relationship and how you feel about each other, and not always for the better.”

–  “Some people feel pressured to have sex, especially if they have done it before. Remember, you can always say no. Just because you have had sex before, it does not mean that you have to keep doing it.”

–  “If you do think you are ready, be sure to talk to your partner about using protection and getting tested. It is important to be open and honest in your communication with your partner. These topics can seem awkward at first, but honesty allows you and your partner to become closer and feel more comfortable with each other. You have the power to keep yourself safe from pregnancy and infection.”

 Websites for Youth:

Sex, Etc. is part of the Teen-to-Teen Sexuality Education Project developed by Answer, a national organization dedicated to providing and promoting comprehensive sexuality education to young people and the adults in their lives.)

AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide, through education, treatment and care.

Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #13)

Teenagers abuse a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. Legally available drugs include prescribed medication and over-the-counter medications. These drugs are easily accessible, free or inexpensive, and falsely believed to be safer than illicit drugs. It is estimated that 3.1 million persons ages 12-25 have used an over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to get high and nearly 1 million have done so in the past year. This is better known as drug misuse. Youth who use other drugs are more likely to abuse prescription medications.

Did you know?

  • – Approximately 63% of youth who had used prescription drugs non-medically in the past year had also used marijuana in the past year.
  • – Approximately 13% of youth have used or sniffed inhalants and other household products.
  • – Further, 9.3% and 5% of 12th graders also report having used Vicodin and OxyContin, respectively during their youth – making these medications among the most commonly abused prescription drugs by adolescents.

Adolescent drug use is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including increased risk of serious drug use later in life, school failure, and poor judgment, which may put teens at risk for accidents, violence, unplanned and unsafe sex, and suicide.

Try these messages with youth:
Misusing prescription or over the counter drugs is not any safer than using street drugs. There are healthier ways to help you feel better.

  • – Exercise to give you more energy.
  • – Use only limited amounts of caffeine to help you stay awake.
  • – Create a night time routine by listening to relaxing music and avoiding caffeine and sugar before you go to bed.

Give youth the knowledge and power to make healthy decisions!