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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Sexual Development Ages 13-17

Emotional Development

Most teens ages 13 to 17 will:

  • Have the capacity to develop long-lasting, mutual, and healthy relationships, if they have the foundations for this developmenttrust, positive past experiences, and an understanding of love 
  • Understand their own feelings and have the ability to analyze why they feel a certain way 
  • Begin to place less value on appearance and more on personality 

Sexual Development

Most teens ages 13 to 17 will:

  • Understand that they are sexual and understand the options and consequences of sexual expression 
  • Choose to express their sexuality in ways that may or may not include sexual intercourse 
  • Recognize the components of healthy and unhealthy relationships 
  • Have a clear understanding of pregnancy and of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and the possible consequences of sexual intercourse and have the ability to make reasoned choices about sex based on knowledge 
  • Recognize the role media play in propagating views about sex 
  • Have the capacity to learn about intimate, loving, long-term relationships 
  • Have an understanding of their own sexual orientation. This is different than sexual behavior.

What Families Need to Do to Raise Sexually Healthy Adolescents

To help teens ages 13 to 17 develop as sexually healthy youth, families should:

  • Clearly articulate your family and religious values regarding sexual intercourse. Express that, although sex is pleasurable, young people should wait to initiate sex until they are in a mature, loving, and responsible relationship. 
  • Express that we all have a variety of options for experiencing intimacy and expressing love. 
  • Discuss together the factors, including age, mutual consent, protection, contraceptive use, love, intimacy, etc., that you and your teen believe should be a part of decisions about sexual intercourse. 
  • Reinforce teens' ability to make decisions while providing information on which they can base those decisions. 
  • Discuss contraceptive options and talk about the importance of condom use.
    Discuss teens' options, should unprotected intercourse occurincluding emergency contraception and STI testing and treatment. Discuss teens' options, should pregnancy occur, including abortion, parenting, and adoption. 
  • Discuss exploitive behavior and why it is unhealthy and (in some cases) illegal.
  • Help youth identify various physical and verbal responses to avoid/get away from sexual situations that make them feel uncomfortable.
  • Acknowledge that teens have many future life options, that some may marry and/or parent while others may remain single and or childless.
  • Use inclusive language that recognizes that some youth may be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact The Clinic at 519-663-5317.

Date of creation: December 11, 2012
Last modified on: August 27, 2014


1Reproduced with permission from Advocates for Youth Website © 2001, Advocates for Youth Retrieved from