What are the tools a teenager needs for successful prevention?
The necessary knowledge at the right time. The teenager should receive information about prevention well before his/her first sexual experience with another person. The information should be made easily understandable. It should include facts about how sexually transmitted diseases are contracted and how conception happens, as well as about the importance of caring for oneself, protecting one’s boundaries and being attuned to feelings.
Knowledge needs to be backed up with practice. One can’t learn to swim either just from looking at pictures of it. Using the condom properly requires practice in advance, so that the skills are there when the time is at hand. Schools should hand out condoms, in addition to condoms being made available at home, so that young people have the chance to familiarize themselves with them.
Good self-esteem boosts one’s willingness to use prevention. When a person appreciates their own body and thereby also respects their partner, they will want information about prevention in order to implement it in practice. Throughout life, a person’s self-esteem develops and grows in social relationships. Every adult can by their example inspire the young person and contribute to his/her positive development.
In Finland, preventives are not free and this may strain the budget of young people. Counties should offer preventives to young people free of charge. If prevention services are needed, these should be made available without excess queuing or bureaucracy.
There are many methods of prevention. People require different methods in different stages of life. Because it is easily available, non-hormonal, and offers a double effect, the condom is the first choice for people in various age groups. It’s especially suited to using when one is younger, possibly looking for a life partner and needing effective protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Young people appreciate the condom for its easy availability and fair price.
In communities and societies with an open and tolerant atmosphere, where young people’s sexuality is accepted, there is far less risk-taking sexual behaviour among youth, a lower rate of sexually transmitted diseases and fewer teen pregnancies.