Yesterday I wrote the introduction to this series. Today I am writing about how talking with teenagers about sex as a privilege can lead to a discussion of responsibility to the physical aspects of a sexual relationship.

Once a teenager acknowledges that sexual activities are inherently different from non-sexual activities, the most obvious way to talk about these differences is the actual physicalness inherent in sexuality: sexual activities are inherently physically different from non-sexual activities and carry certain physical risks.

The question to ask:

“What responsibility does one have towards the physical well-being of one’s sexual partner(s)?”

Not many teenagers get asked this question, but I suspect that safe sex would be much more common if they were. This question could prove to be particularly revolutionary if teenagers responded by truly pondering the implications. While I generally suggest that adults keep their questioning to a bare minimum of one question, if the situation allows, I might try to slip in this second question into the conversation:

“What responsibility does one have towards the physical well-being of one’s own body, sexually speaking?”

I am sure that I never considered my responsibility towards my own physical, sexual health as a teenager, and I don’t think I ever overtly considered my responsibility towards my partner’s physical well-being.  What about you?  How did you conceptualize these issues as a teenager, or how have you guided your teenager in conceptualizing them?