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This Mālama Ola Minute focuses on sexual health and well-being in teens. Learn some positive parenting practices, including how to talk to your teen about sex, in this column brought to you by the KS Health Services Department - Mālama Ola (To Care for Life).

Mālama Ola Minute: Sexual health and well-being in teens

Feb. 26, 2019

Parents have the greatest influence over their children’s decisions about sex – more than friends, siblings, or the media. Most teens say making decisions about delaying sex would be easier if they could talk openly and honestly with their parents. Talking with teens about sex-related topics – including healthy relationships and the prevention of HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy – is a positive parenting practice.

Abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy. However, some teens are sexually active. Teenagers and young adults are a vulnerable population because they make decisions and act in ways that put them at greater risk:

  • Young people (ages 13-24) accounted for an estimated 21 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2016.
  • Half of the 20 million new STDs reported each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 and 24.
  • Nearly 210,000 babies were born to teen girls ages 15-19 years in 2016; only about 50 percent of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age.

A recent statewide survey of middle and high school students revealed that 19.2 percent of haumāna were sexually active. Of those students, 57.3 percent said they did not use a condom the last time they had sex. These results highlight the very critical need for conversations and open dialogue between parents and children.


  • Stay informed about where their teens are getting information
  • Identify opportunities to have conversations and have them frequently
  • Be relaxed and open and avoid overreacting
  • Provide opportunities for conversations between their teens and health care professionals

Parent resources

Student resources:

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