|Call to Action|
Advocates for Youth calls for a new national dialogue on adolescent sexual health, focusing on respect, rights, responsibility, and research.
Given both the high rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the United States and the lessons learned in the Netherlands, Germany, and France, Advocates for Youth calls for a new national dialogue on adolescent sexual health that recognizes sexuality as a normal, healthy component of human growth and development and that has, as its core philosophical tenets: 1) respect for all adolescents as valuable individuals, 2) recognition that teens have the right to receive accurate, complete sexual health information and health services, and 3) acceptance that young people, like adults, have the responsibility to protect themselves and their partners from unintended childbearing and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Advocates for Youth calls on all policy makers, educators, parents, clergy, clinicians, and media professionals to insist that sexual health policies be driven by research—not by politics or religious dogma.
All adolescents deserve respect as valuable individuals.
Every single adolescent is a valuable individual who deserves the respect and support of family, community, and society. Adults need to view young people as assets rather than as potential problems. Each adolescent has opinions, feelings, and experiences that matter. Each has a unique contribution to make. Young people should be encouraged to get involved—to make a difference in the world. Families, communities, and society should act so that young people appreciate and develop their individual talents and value both themselves and others. Society demonstrates that it values young people by providing them with good quality education, economic security, and the promise of fulfilling futures.
Every young person has the right to the information and services necessary to make responsible decisions about his or her reproductive and sexual health.
Adolescents, like adults, have the right to complete, honest, and accurate reproductive and sexual health information. Adolescents, like adults, have the right to accessible, affordable, and quality health care services. Confidentiality is critical in this sensitive area, for taking away a young person's privacy also takes away access to care. Parents can be most supportive by creating open, loving, and respectful relationships with their children.
Rights entail responsibilities.
Families, communities, and society have a responsibility to provide young people with the support they need to create healthy, fulfilling lives. Adolescents, in turn, have the responsibility to act upon the information and services available to them. The right to information and health services comes with the responsibility to protect oneself and one's partner against unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV.
Research must dictate public policy.
Public policies that impact the health and the well being of young people should rest securely on scientific research. Adolescents deserve sexual health strategies based upon best practices as determined by evaluation and research. Science—not politics or religion—should drive public health programs and policies.