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Sexual health Kids and oral sex

Many preteens and teenagers don’t agree that oral sex is sex. Some girls think their peers perform oral sex to get attention or to be accepted. A 16-year-old boy from Idaho told his mother that girls in his school pay two dollars to perform oral sex on boys. The girls pay the boys.

Jen, a college freshman, says some girls think they’re acting cool by giving guys oral sex. She also admits that later, they feel lousy about themselves.

Alex, 21, believes that some girls have oral sex to avoid intercourse. “They feel obligated to do something,” he says. “But oral sex isn’t something that should be expected. It’s an intimate act.”

Starting the conversation

Child psychiatrist Dr. Paula Rauch from Massachusetts General Hospital says that parents can begin a conversation by saying they’ve heard that young people are engaging in oral sex, then asking: “I wonder why girls would perform oral sex?” “How do you think these boys and girls will feel, knowing that their classmates and teachers will know?” These kinds of questions help teens consider how they’d handle similar situations.

One way the mother of 16-year-old Justin engages her son is by acting a little naïve. “I said, ‘I read that kids were having oral sex,” Liz says. “Is that true?”

“Justin rolled his eyes and said, ‘Leave me alone mom.’ ”

Liz persisted. She explained that the reason she asked was to make sure he had the right information: oral sex is sex. Nodding, Justin agreed. He maintained that none of his friends are having oral sex.

As she does frequently, Liz reminded Justin to treat girls the way he’d want guys to treat his 18-year-old sister. “They’re very close,” Liz says. “I know that’s something he can relate to.”

Seventeen-year-old Bill thinks boys are being selfish when they expect or accept oral sex in casual, uncommitted relationships with girls. “Sure it feels good,” he says. “It’s still wrong. Some guys do it for bragging rights,” he continues. “Others think they’re entitled. You know, it’s the macho thing.”

Bill thinks that boys who use girls to get sexual pleasure will struggle with relationships later in life. "You don’t usually change the way you treat other people, just because you get older,” he says.

Former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher says children may think oral sex is safe, but it isn’t. “It carries the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes and Chlamydia,” says Dr. Satcher.

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