This statement reflects the consensus of the National Commission on Adolescent Sexual Health. The Consensus Statement has been endorsed by more than 50 national organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American School Health Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the Child Welfare League of America, and the YWCA. Facing Facts: Sexual Health for America's Adolescents, the full report of the National Commission on Adolescent Sexual Health, can be ordered from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).
Becoming a sexually healthy adult is a key developmental task of adolescence. Achieving sexual health requires the integration of psychological, physical, societal, cultural, educational, economic, and spiritual factors.
Sexual health encompasses sexual development and reproductive health, as well as such characteristics as the ability to develop and maintain meaningful interpersonal relationships; appreciate one's own body; interact with both genders in respectful and appropriate ways; and express affection, love, and intimacy in ways consistent with one's own values.
Adults can encourage sexual health by:
Society can enhance adolescent sexual health if it provides access to comprehensive sexuality education and affordable, sensitive, and confidential reproductive health care services, as well as education and employment opportunities. Families, schools, community agencies, religious institutions, media, businesses, health care providers, and government at all levels have important roles to play.
Society should encourage adolescents to delay sexual behaviors until they are ready physically, cognitively, and emotionally for mature sexual relationships and their consequences. This support should include education about:
Society must also recognize that a majority of adolescents will become involved in sexual relationships during their teenage years. Adolescents should receive support and education for developing the skills to evaluate their readiness for mature sexual relationships. Responsible adolescent intimate relationships, like those of adults, should be based on shared personal values, and should be: