Washington State ad campaign discourages young people from having sex

The Washington State Department of Health has launched an advertising campaign urging young people in Washington to wait to have sex. The campaign targets kids ages 15 and younger, as well as their parents.

Nationally in 2003, more than 53 percent of high school youth reported not having sex or delaying sexual activity. “This is good news, but more can be done,” said State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes. “We want kids to know they’re not the only ones their age not having sex.”

Ads for television, radio, billboards and movie screens were created specifically for Washington by state residents who contributed to research and design. Parents who participated in creating the ads believed they should be more descriptive than just telling them to “talk to your kids about delaying sex.” They said ads would be more effective if they gave suggestions on how to talk to their kids. Ads targeting young people focus on reasons to wait to have sex and problems associated with having sex at a young age. One television ad highlights reasons their peers are waiting: “I’m not ready;” or, “My parents would kill me!”

There’s been a steady decline in Washington’s teen pregnancy rate over the last decade; still, more than 200 pregnancies occurred among youth ages 15 and younger in 2003. At least 6,500 cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were reported among youth 10 to19 that same year.

This campaign is part of other comprehensive efforts by the Department of Health to prevent pregnancies, STDs and HIV infections among Washington’s youth.

More information on delaying sexual activity is available on a Web site sponsored by the Department of Health, “No Sex No Problems.”

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