What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Scarleteen is a sexual health site that is educational and medically accurate but sometimes explicit. Parents' comfort level will probably depend on how much they think their teens should know about sexuality. The site includes information that's geared toward younger teens (articles about self-esteem and puberty, for example) as well as more "adult" topics that aren't normally addressed in sex-ed classes (like sexual pleasure). The site identifies as feminist and pro-choice and explains its philosophy as "a nonjudgmental and unbiased attitude of acceptance, tolerance, and understanding for young people, whether they choose to be sexually active or not."
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- personal growth
- handling stress
- identifying emotions
Responsibility & Ethics
- learning from consequences
- making wise decisions
- embracing differences
Health & Fitness
- mental health
- body awareness
Engagement, Approach, Support
Older teens will appreciate the site's frank, nonjudgmental approach to sex and its cheeky style -- there are puns aplenty. Moderated forums allow satisfying interaction with both peers and experts.
Info about health, sexually transmitted diseases, anatomy and more is presented openly and frankly, and there's a full list of resources. Here, learning requires a lot of reading, but there's so much helpful info, it's hard to step away.
There's extensive information here, but it's organized well and extremely easy to navigate. A thorough search function enables users to pinpoint precisely the topic they're interested in.
What's it about?
Teens have several ways of finding information on Scarleteen. The home page alone is chocked full of information, from "What's New This Month" that includes seasonal themes (ex: summer love, and using your more flexible summer schedule to explore sexual health care options), to recent questions and message board posts; teens can also go straight to the topic on their mind. Scarleteen bills itself as the site with "sex ed for the real world -- inclusive, comprehensive, and smart sexuality information and help for teens and 20s." Younger teens may appreciate the seeing that older teens and college students still have questions.
Is it any good?
Billing itself as "Sex Education for the Real World," SCARLETEEN takes a frank, nonjudgmental approach to talking about sex with a cheeky style -- there are puns aplenty -- that will appeal to older teens. While some of the subject matter may be controversial, the information provided is accurate and can give teens get a better understanding of their bodies and their sexual feelings. The advice on relationships and emotional health is particularly insightful, from tackling stereotypes like "real men don't cry" to exploring options for teens seeking psychotherapy -- subjects that many health classes never address. Also helpful is the "Find-a-Doc" section, which connects readers with health care providers, counseling services, and other resources.
Online interaction: Registered users can ask and answer questions in the forums. Users are respectful and helpful, and there are many staff and volunteer moderators who frequent the boards.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about media messages about sex. What TV shows or movies depict sex and relationships in a way that's realistic?
Every family has different opinions on the best approach to discussing sex and sexual health. Talk about your values and expectations when it comes to sex. Some teens are afraid to talk to their parents about sex. Would your teens feel comfortable approaching you if they had a question or concern? Why or why not?
How do you know who (or what) is a trustworthy source of information about sex and sexual health?