By Dr. Jamee Goldstein
As quarantine continues at various levels throughout the state, maintaining emotional and social distance is difficult for all of us, but particularly for our teenagers. As a natural part of development, teens crave a connection with their peer group and rebel against authority. In addition, teenagers view themselves as invincible and their still-developing brains cannot assess potential consequences.
Enforcing social distancing with our children, adolescents and young adults requires a great commitment by parents who are already burdened by the pandemic. Seeing teenagers gathering in groups, not wearing masks, and not observing the 6-foot rule is concerning.
And now the sensitive part…
In the last few weeks, pediatricians are getting more requests to test for sexually transmitted infections and are seeing more young women with urinary tract infections after having sexual intercourse. These children admit to sneaking around, not wearing masks, and not using protection against sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. Parents can make a difference in these behaviors. If you suspect your teen is sexually active, please discuss safe sex practices with them. These would include condom use, forms of birth control, and of course abstinence. We would also ask you to remind them that sexual activity is not observing the 6-foot social distancing rule, so they are not only putting themselves at risk of contracting a disease or getting pregnant, but they are also at risk of contracting COVID19 and spreading it to others.
If you are uncomfortable having this difficult conversation with your adolescent or young adult, please reach out to your pediatrician. We are happy to have that discussion and to educate your child in a non-judgmental manner.