Adolescent Sexual Activity as a Pervasive Culture: What View Should Doctors Hold and Advise the Teen?
One of the areas of medical practice which are introduced to first and second year medical students is how to behave and communicate if a patient is an adolescent. Providing medical care for an adolescent is in some ways more complex than caring for an adult. The doctor is dealing with a patient who is old enough to give assent and even in some jurisdictions able to give consent to various procedures and treatments but still is under the legal and ethical responsibilities of parents. The doctor, therefore, has to be involved not only with the adolescent but also the parents. Also the adolescent is in the dynamic process of maturing, emotionally, physically and intellectually with variations of the degree of maturation based on age, genetic factors and environment. There will be views of the adolescent which will be overturned by the individual when the person is no longer an adolescent.
One of the areas of medical interest regarding adolescents is their understanding of sexuality and their resultant sexual behavior. I received a communication from a medical school teacher who has been involved in teaching medical students about adolescents. She poses the issue as to whether, communicating to teen patients, there was a rationale for physicians to make a point opposing sexual activity by teens. The teacher wrote:
“A student approached me feeling strongly that her classmates and professors were all making comments/jokes about talking to teens about their sexuality and “everyone already has premarital sex anyway" and was there a place for a physician to express a different viewpoint in a society so pervasive with sexuality. How to make a stance for abstinence with a young teen? How should doctors reconcile their own religious and moral beliefs about sexuality if they are different from the pervasive culture?”
In the terms of sexual behavior, do you think it is right to teach medical students that physicians should go against the “pervasive culture” or go with the tide? How would you feel as a teenager if your doctor told you to avoid all sexual contact when you know all your fellow students are engaging in sex? ..Maurice.