Your Student's Sexual Decision Making
Supporting Good Decisions
Many college students are in a transitional stage. They are learning to make many important decisions on their own – including decisions about intimate relationships and sexual activity. By supporting your students, communicating with them, and offering facts and education, you can have a positive influence on their sexual decision making. It’s never too late to start an open dialogue with your son or daughter about sex.
- Welcome: Be available to your student, treat each other with respect and trust
- Interest: Ask about your student’s opinions, friends, and college experiences
- Support Good Goals: Ask what your student’s goals are, for both the long and short term, and share your support
- Encourage, Educate, and Empower: Give your student the guidance, information, and skills to be successful
Talk to your student about how he or she thinks and feels.
Conversation Starter: “That song has a good beat, but the song makes it seem like having sex makes you a man (or woman). Do you think that’s true?” This could open the door for…
- Talking to your student about the benefits of waiting to have sex
- Telling your student how you feel about the idea that having sex makes you a man (or woman)
Talk to your student about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
Conversation Starter: “They never talk about STIs on that television show, even though the show features lots of stuff about sex. Have you heard about anybody at your school who has been diagnosed with an STI?” This could open the door for…
- Reminding your student that unprotected sexual activity can lead to contracting an STI
- Telling your student that as many as 50% of new cases of STIs occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24*
- Telling your student that many STIs do not have symptoms, so students should be tested for STIs regularly (this can be done at University Health Services)
- Telling your student that a new vaccine (Gardasil) is now available to prevent Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and it is available at the University Health Services
Talk to your student about condoms.
Conversation Starter: “I heard that they give out free condoms at the University Health Services on campus. Have you seen them?” This could open the door for…
- Telling your student that condoms should be used for all sexual acts
- Telling your student that condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy, if used correctly and consistently (for example, if they are used for every sexual act and put on before any penetration occurs)**
- Reminding your student that using condoms reduces his/her risk for STIs, such as HIV
Talk to your student about pregnancy.
Conversation Starter: “Since you’ve been at Kent State have you met any students who are pregnant or young parents?” This could open the door for…
- Talking to your student about abstinence and the benefits of waiting to have sex
- Reminding your student that it is both parties’ responsibility to be safe and to prevent pregnancy
- Talking to your students about various methods of contraception
- Telling your student that she or he may go to University Health Services for contraception and regular gynecological appointments
- Telling your student that Plan B is now available over the counter for students over the age of 18 and can be obtained at University Health Services
Talk to your student about sex and alcohol.
Conversation starter: “I know that there will be opportunities for you to drink alcohol and/or try drugs at college. Have your friends been talking about this?" This could open the door for…
- Talking to your student about making his or her personal decisions about sex well before consuming any alcohol
- Telling your student that when alcohol is involved, it can be difficult to give or receive clear consent for sexual activity
N---Say “No” instead of “maybe” or “later.” Remind your student to set boundaries and be decisive. If your student makes the decision not to have sex before being confronted by the pressure to have sex, it will be easier to say “no” when the situation arises.
I--- Follow with an “I” statement. For example, “I plan to wait several years before I have sex.” Or “I’m not going to have sex until I get married.” Or “Sex isn’t part of my game plan right now.”
C--- if pressure continues, “Change.” Teach your student to change the topic: “Did you see the game on TV last night?” or change their conversation partner: “Julie is over there, I need to ask her something” or change the location: “I’m going back into the kitchen.”
E--- if these strategies do not help, your student needs an “Exit” plan. Your student should know to leave a bad situation immediately. If he or she does not have a way home, he/she should call a trusted friend or adult. Your student can also call a Campus Escort for a safe walk home. It is a good idea for your student to have a code phrase that she or he could say to a friend that will let them know that they need to leave quickly.
*Weinstock H, Berman S, Cates W, Jr. (2004). Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: Incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 36, 6-10.
** Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
*** Adapted from Parents Speak Up! The Office of Population Affairs, Family and Youth Services Bureau, The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, & The National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth. Parents, speak up! A Guide for Discussing Abstinence, Sex, and Relationships