A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
The site emphasizes the importance of consent, respect, and equality when it comes to sex and relationships, and encourages readers to take care of their sexual health and mental health needs.
Some of the content involves gender identity, BIPOC, LGTBQ, and other experiences, and gender politics.
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Violence & Scariness
The site addresses topics like rape, abusive relationships, and self-injury.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The site covers a wide range of sex-related topics, including anatomy, pregnancy and STD prevention, abortion, sexual orientation, and sexual pleasure.
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The articles are written in an educational voice that uses proper terms for body parts, sex acts, etc. Some user-generated content contains sex slang ("d--k," "jerking off").
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Products & Purchases
Kids will see links to sites like Amazon where they can buy a few books affiliated with the site.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There's some content on drinking, smoking, and drugs that discusses health concerns and the risks of sexual activity while under the influence.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Scarleteen is a sexual health site that's 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 has a feminist and pro-choice approach to topics 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." Content also touches on sexual identity, parenting, and other topics.
Is It Any Good?
Billing itself as "sex ed for the real world," this site's frank, nonjudgmental approach to talking about sex features a cheeky style and conversational tone that should appeal to older teens. Some of Scarleteen's subject matter may be controversial -- in addition to informative pieces on pelvis-related medical issues, there's also content that addresses foreplay -- but the information provided is accurate and can give teens get a better understanding of their bodies and their sexual feelings. Some of the numerous topics covered range from sexual identity to sexual politics and the science behind bodily changes. Efforts have also been made to be inclusive, with content mentioning, for instance, how to talk about a disability and a first-person account of being bisexual. In addition to question-and-answer-style write-ups, items also are written in some creative formats, such as an article that breaks sexual activities down by high, moderate, or low STI risk.
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 kids' health classes might not have addressed. Teens can also get a more personalized experience through the site's message boards, where they can post under headings such as Gender or Supporting Each Other, or by texting the site's messaging service. They can also chat live with a volunteer or staff member, who are available for conversations during certain hours Monday through Saturday. Message board users are generally respectful, and staff and volunteer moderators keep an eye on the boards -- which seems to help that aspect of Scarleteen remain as positive and encouraging as the rest of the site.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.