Dear Straight Talk: I checked a link where teenagers ask questions to each other. From what I read, I suspect my 15-year-old daughter is performing oral sex on boys. What is the best way to talk to her about this?
Nicole, 20, Arcata: You're in for a rude awakening. In my human sexuality class we learned that girls are now giving oral sex to boys in sixth grade — before having sex in eighth grade. I hope your daughter knows that one in four teens has an STD. Have her look up oral herpes online.
Scot, 23, San Luis Obispo: Just as the medium soda used to be a large, so has oral sex become the modern goodnight kiss. It's considered a consolation prize to intercourse. It's not uncommon to read Internet posts like, "He bought me that expensive dinner so I gave him oral sex."
Lisa, 22, Sacramento: A friend got caught and had to write a paper on it. Not that it cured her. I had oral sex before real sex and I was definitely too young at 15 — but I knew lots who had already done it.
Rachel, 18, Fair Oaks: Oral sex is often considered "safe" sex. It is also considered a way to keep your virginity. Your daughter needs to know that almost every STD can be contracted by mouth — and that guys will respect her for saying no. Outside a committed relationship, oral sex can be emotionally heartbreaking and hurt your reputation.
Delaney, 18, Auburn: This guy at a party was like, "Let's have sex." When I said no, he said, "Will you at least give me oral?" I was disgusted, but most girls give in, including friends of mine. It's a common hook-up activity, performed most always by the girl. If a girl requests it, she is usually laughed at. I'm in a committed love relationship where it's more equal. But it's sad that sex and oral sex aren't often acts of love anymore.
Liz, 17, Sacramento: I did this the first time at 15. It's quite common. It wasn't something my parents talked to me about, but it would be great to discuss it with your daughter. If you don't have good communication with her, invite her talk to a doctor. Kids definitely don't consider it real sex but it's equally dangerous for STDs.
Catherine, 22, Amherst, Mass.: Be honest with her. State your concerns, offer health information, an ear, and if you're comfortable, condoms. Many teens feel pressure from the media and friends to move quickly in sexual relationships. They need to know they are never obligated to do anything.
Molly, 18, Fair Oaks: Avoid an angry or blaming attitude. If you are reasonable (from her perspective), instead of "just a reactive parent," she'll more likely tell the truth. You can't control her choices, but creating a space where she feels comfortable talking to you increases your chances of influencing her.
Dear Torrance: Now that you've had your crash course from our field experts, I hope you will be less reactive and more constructive.
Sexual mores have definitely loosened — across all age groups. Nonetheless, most sexually active girls are not morally bankrupt. They are just trying to feel loved.
Of the panelists who admitted to oral sex, I would be happy to have any of them as my daughters — and some have come a long way precisely because of loving family and mentors. Talk to her directly, with loving concern: "Honey, I'm not mad, I'm worried." Show her the Internet posts and this column.
Promiscuity generally results from low self-esteem. Girls truly believe boys won't like them otherwise. The more you value her (yes, this includes raising expectations and tightening boundaries) the more she will value herself.
To ask a question or inquire about being a youth panelist, www.straighttalkforteens.com or write P.O. Box 963 Fair Oaks, CA 95628.