Photo illustration by Oliver Zuniga

Photo illustration by Oliver Zuniga

By, Segan Helle

In a society where the average age Americans lose their virginity is seventeen, and where forty-six percent of high schoolers engage in sexual activity, the topic of high school sexual intimacy is disconcertingly considered taboo. Sexual education sits on the backburner, where most students in the Sweetwater Union High School District receive their only sex-ed lessons in seventh grade health and during a single semester of senior year, either at school or online. All in all, sex is not the easiest topic to discuss, especially with teenagers.

The Crusader staff conducted a poll across sixteen junior and senior English classes exploring Baron attitudes towards high school relationships, intimacy and their sexual education.

Paola Garcia is the on-campus school nurse and has worked at BVHS for the past two years. She has attended Cal State Berkeley and Fresno State and received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

Q: To what extent do you see sexual intimacy as a health problem on our campus?

A: I don’t see it much here in my office. I know it exists and I know it’s there and it happens, but to the extent that I’m involved, that’s not one of my biggest issues coming in the door.

 

Q:What are the health risks of sexual intimacy in high school?

A: If students are going to be intimate, that’s really an adult behavior that requires adult responsibilities. Some of the health risks involved with that is protection for both parties, because it can lead to pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, along with the psychological impacts that it can have on students. Feelings can get hurt and trust can be an issue if the feelings are not mutual or there wasn’t a discussion beforehand. They can get sad, maybe experience depression and maybe anxiety. It can have some psychological consequences, and that’s why it’s really important that it’s thought out, and that discussions are taking place beforehand.

 

Q: How often should birth control methods be used?

A: It’s really important that students talk to their parents or talk to their healthcare providers because most BC, or birth control, has to be overseen by a healthcare provider. If someone is going to be active, it should always be used.

 

Q: What should students consider regarding their health before deciding on whether to have sex for the first time?

A: It’s more of a psychological preparedness.  Most parents, if not all, wouldn’t like for their teenagers to be active. That decision is a really big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Discussing that decision with parents, or some kind of counselor, or some kind of provider would be a good way to start, just because it can have those psychological and emotional impacts.

 

Q: What kind of questions are you asked about sex by students or parents?

A: I don’t get many questions from parents. I don’t get a lot of students who come in. Very few times, I’ve had students who were worried that they might have gotten something. My recommendation is always to go to Planned Parenthood or some kind of teen clinic to get tested. I’m very limited on what I can do here, because I don’t have access to BC or other materials. My job is just to point students in the right direction. So, whenever students do have questions, I try to point them in the right direction.

 

Q: What health advice do you give to students considering sex for the first time?A: I give them the whole talk about how it’s an adult behavior that requires adult responsibilities, and to really think about what their motivations are for doing that. Is it their decision or are they being pressured by friends or other people?

Q: Do you feel like our school is responsive to the issues raised by teenage intimacy?

A: I don’t have a sense that it’s very open to that discussion at school. Maybe it’s because we don’t see a lot of teenage pregnancies at this school. I think that other schools are more open about having those discussions; you see the posters, and you see the groups, and you see the fliers, but that’s probably because it is an issue there and they do have a lot of students who are dropping out because of pregnancies. But, since at our school we don’t have a lot of students who turn out to be parents, I don’t see it as much.

 

A: I don’t have a sense that it’s very open to that discussion at school. Maybe it’s because we don’t see a lot of teenage pregnancies at this school. I think that other schools are more open about having those discussions; you see the posters, and you see the groups, and you see the fliers, but that’s probably because it is an issue there and they do have a lot of students who are dropping out because of pregnancies. But, since at our school we don’t have a lot of students who turn out to be parents, I don’t see it as much.

 

Q: What do you think can be done to increase responsiveness to these issue?

A:  I think being proactive is better than being reactive. I think having information out there: that there are counselors and nurses here, and that there are adults who care who can help students whenever they have questions or doubts; I think that’s a good thing. Maybe a reason we haven’t seen a lot of those is because there doesn’t seem to be a huge need for it. I think being more responsive and more proactive is always a good thing.

 

Q: When should a student approach a school nurse in regards to sexual intimacy?

A:  Whenever they have questions about anything that has to do with intimacy: whether they’re questioning if they’re ready or whether they’re questioning what their options are. I think it’s a good idea for students to approach a parent or a counselor or their health care provider.

 

Q: What resources do students have regarding information about sexual intercourse or disease?

A: There’s a lot of good resources out there, and we have local clinics here as well. There’s the CDC (Center for Disease Control) which is a reliable one, anything that has a ‘gov’ or an ‘edu’ are good resources out there, or Planned Parenthood. On campus, there’s not that many resources, but there are carrying counselors on campus and we do have a full time nurse that  is available whenever students have any questions or doubts or concerns.