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Summer’s coming and the beaches will again be littered with sun-seeking teens wearing as little as possible. And no, this column is not about how important sunscreen is.

What the darlings of summer need is protection of a different kind.

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The column is about the alarming findings of a national study that collected data on all the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and teen girls.  

It said one in four adolescent females between the ages of 14 and 19 is infected with at least one of four STDs—human papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, herpes simplex virus and trichomoniasis.

The statistics for black teens in the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were even more alarming—nearly half (48 percent) were infected.

Extrapolating from the survey, which was conducted in 2003-2004, researcher Dr. Sara Forhan said 3.2 million teenage women were infected.

This study is not just about words and numbers on paper.

It’s about kids facing potentially fatal illnesses because they didn’t know the very real consequences of sexual activity.

It’s about very real future mothers facing miscarriages or premature births and very real young women who may not be able to conceive a baby.

When I learned of the report I thought about P.D. James’ book’ “The Children of Men” and the film based on it.

The book seemed like science fiction to me when I read it - some far-fetched idea that during the course of a couple of decades people begin to see birth rates decline until suddenly comes a year after which no more babies are born - anywhere.

I don’t recall now if this work of fiction linked STDs to the catastrophic depopulation of the world, nevertheless, the book popped into my when I heard about this report.

One thing is certain; the report’s findings are generating controversy.

Some say it’s the result of too much sex education.

Educators are saying this is the consequence of preaching abstinence in place of sex education.

I've always believed knowledge is the best defense against anything that harms us, but what are we teaching our children - girls and boys - about sex?

They need the facts, yes, but they need more.

Call me old-fashioned, but they need to understand that sex is not love—girls especially need this message.

Sex is not a pass to popularity.

Teens need to know that respect easily sold out can take a long time to win back.

In addition to whatever they‘re taught in sex education classes, they need to learn much more from the adults who love them.
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