1. People & Relationships
Sex Scare Tactics
A look at some of the things kids are told to keep them away from sex.
Do the scare tactics work or do they make things worse?
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Scare Tactic #1
If you have sex you can get an STD or AIDS, even the first time.
This falls in to the category of, "unclear statement". Whether it is unclear intentionally or by accident doesn't matter. It is true that you can get AIDS or a less deadly STD when you have sex, even from your first sexual encounter. What is misinforming is what is not mentioned. There are two pretty essential things that need to happen in order for you to "catch something" through sex. First and foremost, your partner has to be infected. Second, you have to have sex without a condom (although a condom does not offer 100% protection - it can help). If your partner is NOT infected there is no chance you will catch something by having sex with them in a clean environment. I emphasize clean environment. If you have sex on a bed that other people have recently had sex on you could catch something from the bed! If you use a condom you mitigate, although NOT erase, the chances that you will catch an STD. However, when you are told, "sex can lead to STDS or AIDS" the broadness of the statement is more an "erring on the side of caution" than it is an outright half truth. You see when you sleep with somebody you are literally sleeping with every person they have ever been with. If you are sleeping with an intravenous drug user you are also sleeping with the people they have shared needles with. It is possible that your partner is infected without knowing it. It is even possible that your infected partner is lying about it to you so you will go to bed with them. When adults give you this warning they are accounting for the fact that you can never be 100% sure that your partner is "clean", it is always better to be safe than sorry!

Scare Tactic #2
When you sleep with somebody too quickly or without commitment, they won't respect you.
This tactic is usually directed at girls and is as old as teenagedom itself, maybe even older. It is a hard one to prove or disprove. While it is true that some people do respect you less after you have had sex with them, this is far from the norm. What more often happens is that people who have sex too soon get "spooked" by the emotions that sex with a new person can bring. If a recent sex partner suddenly does a 180 in their attitude towards you it probably has nothing to do with respecting and everything to do with their own confusion. The "too soon" factor comes in to play because people who know each other or already care for one another without sex are less likely to be frightened off by all the emotions that adding sex to a relationship can bring. This is not to suggest that there is an arbitrary figure defining "too soon" as what seems early to one person can seem right on schedule to another. It just means that without something other than sexual attraction keeping two people "in to" each other, once that attraction is satisfied, there is often little else left.

Scare Tactic #3
If you have sex too early or with someone you don't love, it means there is something wrong with you, that you have low self esteem, or that you are a nymphomaniac.
OK, this one is thrown around a lot and it is one of the most misunderstood of the "scare tactics". Another variation is the "having sex makes you a slut" scare tactic. While it is very true that being promiscuous or having sex at an early age can be a sign of an emotional or psychological disorder, this is not always the case. In fact, it is not even USUALLY the case. People who have been abused or molested often act out in their teen years by having sex indiscriminantly. However, this is not the only thing that these people do to show that they have been psychologically harmed. Nymphomania on the other hand, is a serious psychiatric disorder and is manifested in self destructive sexual encounters or relationships, not "having sex too early or with someone you don't love". For the average teen, this statement just isn't true.

Scare Tactic #4
If you are not a virgin nobody will believe you if you get raped.
This is (in my opinion) the most heinous of the "sex scare tactics" and is almost exclusively used against girls. Rape is a crime. Consenting to sex may be illegal for people of certain ages, but it is not anywhere near the level of "criminal" that rape is. For people to want girls to stay chaste just so that they will be believed, on the off chance that they get raped, is just plain perverse. To make this tactic even more despicable, it is untrue that virginity makes you an incontrovertible witness in your own rape. Many virgins have come forward to say they were raped and not been believed. While this "scare tactic" is probably born out of the very real practice of "putting rape victims on trial" as a legal defense, it is a terrible thing to use this social injustice to keep girls from having sex with someone they care for or who cares for them.

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