Sex & Love

Sex and Love

Yep, it finally happened.  Someone you know (or maybe even you) are starting to have “those kinds of feelings” towards another person.  So now what?  Feeling love for the first time is invigorating, confusing, exciting and scary; all those emotions mixed with raging hormones, can be really overwhelming and sometimes awkward or difficult to discuss.  In this section, you can find information on healthy relationships, sexual identity, family planning, dating violence and more.  Articles are great for parents and teens alike.

Sex & Love

Teen Dating Violence

Teen Dating Violence

Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases



Is it worth the sexy text?

Is it worth the sexy text?

Violence Impacts Teens and Adults

Violence Impacts Teens and Adults

Surviving a Break Up

Surviving a Break Up





Genital Herpes (HSV)

Genital Herpes (HSV)



  • Teen Dating Violence


    dating violenceWhen we hear about domestic violence, we often assume it’s between adults, from lower income, minority families, but those are myths.

    Intimate partner violence takes many shapes and forms among many different groups of people. It spans across different ages, sexualities, and ethnicities. Dating violence is a widespread issue that affects many high school students, girls and boys alike


    • More than one in three women and one in four men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime – many first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age
    • One in five female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner
    • Females 16-24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group – at a rate almost triple the national average
    • LGBT youth are just as likely to experience dating violence as youth involved in opposite sex dating
    • Half of reported date rapes occur among teenagers

    What is Dating Violence?

    Teen dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically, and it may occur between a current or former dating partner. Both males and females can be victims of dating violence. Female abusers are more likely to yell, pinch, slap, scratch or kick; and male abusers are more likely to injure girls with more severity and more frequently. Dating violence is a serious issue that can have severe short-term and long-term negative consequences on a developing teen.

    What Does Dating Violence Look Like?

    • Physical Abuse: any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, strangling, kicking, or using a weapon
    • Verbal or Emotional Abuse: non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or stalking
    • Sexual Abuse: any cation that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion, or restricting access to birth control
    • Digital abuse: use of technologies and/or social media to intimidate, harass, or threaten a current or ex-dating partner, like demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyberbullying, non-consensual sexting, excessive or threatening texts or stalking on social media

    How Does Dating Violence Affect Victims?

    Teens are heavily influenced by experiences in their relationships as they develop. Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have serious negative consequences.

    Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to experience the following:

    • Symptoms of depression and anxiety
    • Engagement in unhealthy behaviors, such as tobacco and drug use, and alcohol
    • Involvement in antisocial behaviors
    • Thoughts about suicide
    • Higher risk for victimization during college

    Warning Signs of Dating Violence

    Here are some of the signs that abusers exhibit:

    • Excessive jealousy or insecurity
    • Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
    • Constant checking in with you or making you check in with him or her
    • Attempts to isolate you from your friends and family
    • Constant belittling or put-downs on you or people you care about
    • Is very controlling – may include giving you orders, telling you what to wear, and making your decisions for you
    • Blames you when he or she treats you badly by telling you all the ways you provoked them
    • Has an explosive temper
    • Pressures you into sexual activity with which you are not comfortable
    • You worry about how your partner will react to the things you say or you are afraid of provoking your partner
    • Refuses to let you end the relationship

    How to Seek Help

    If you believe that you, a friend, or your child is engaged in a violent relationship with their partner, you can reach out for help.  Contact your school, local authorities, The Youth Project, etc., for additional resources.

    Strength United provides a unique interdisciplinary approach to ending abuse and violence through the collaboration of mental health professionals, educators, researchers, students and volunteers.

    This collaboration enhances the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities through our 24-hour response team, advocacy, intervention, education, prevention and work for social change offers multiple ways of speaking with someone about your situation. You can live chat, text, or call an advocate for a safe place to talk and consult, 24/7.


    Other Websites Cited:,,,

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  • Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases

    Fast Facts on STD’s:

    • One in two sexually active youth will contract an STD by age 25.
    • Half of all new HIV infections occur among adolescents.
    • Almost half of high school students nationwide and about 62% of students in the twelfth-grade have had sexual intercourse.
    • Less than half of high school students reported discussion of sex or STDs during their preventive health visits, and males were less likely to have such discussions.

    A few common STD’s:


    Chalamydial infection is a bacterium that is transmitted during vaginal or anal sexual contact with someone who is infected.  FOR MORE INFORMATION


    Scabies is a skin condition that is caused by a tiny insect that burrows into the skin.  FOR MORE INFORMATION

    Genital Herpes

    Genital herpes is a contagious viral infection that affects an estimated 30 million Americans. The infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). FOR MORE INFORMATION

    Herpes is an infection and is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). When the infection is on the mouth, it is called oral herpes. When it is on or near the sex organs it is called genital herpes. FOR MORE INFORMATION

    Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema pallidum. The bacterium can move throughout the body, damaging many organs over time. FOR MORE INFORMATION

    Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina and the vulva. It occurs when the normal balance within the vagina is upset, allowing an excess of organisms to produce an excess of waste. FOR MORE INFORMATION

    Read more


    It is not rare when we hear a student share with us about the unhealthy relationships in their life.  Whether it’s a first time boyfriend or girlfriend, a sibling, a parent, a classmate or a best friend … Our kids are learning boundaries, how to express their needs, how to pick and choose who they want to surround themselves with and how to assert their voice when something isn’t right.  So it’s no wonder to us that the statistics of Teen Dating Violence are so high.

    “Adolescents and adults are often unaware that teens experience dating violence.  In a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey). About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey).”


    Why Focus on Young People?

    • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
    • Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.
    • The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.
    • About 72% of eighth and ninth graders are “dating”.


    What are the consequences of dating violence?

    As teens develop emotionally, they are heavily influenced by their relationship experiences. Healthy relationship behaviors can have  a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development.

    Unhealthy, abusive or violent relationships can cause short term and long -term negative effects, or consequences to the developing teen.:

    • Put the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.
    • Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get a STI.
    • Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.


    Is your boy/girlfriend likely to abuse you?

    • Showing symptoms of trauma
    • Using alcohol
    • Having friends involved in dating violence
    • Having problem behaviors in other areas
    • Believing dating violence is okay
    • Being exposed to harsh parenting or inconsistent discipline
    • Not having parental supervision, monitoring, or warm relationships with parents



    For more information:

    Love is Respect

    Safe Horizon



    Hotline Phone Numbers

    Domestic Violence Hotline:
800.621.HOPE (4673)

    Crime Victims Hotline:
866.689.HELP (4357)

    Rape & Sexual Assault Hotline:



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  • Is it worth the sexy text?

    Advancements in technology have had a great impact on our society; communication with one another has become easier than ever.  With instant messaging, social networking sites and the ease (and quickness) of texting, we are never too far away from family, friends, and colleagues.  People can respond without delay, be more connected to fans/customers, as well as speak more openly and freely, etc.  But each of these platforms for exchanges of information, does not come without its drawbacks.  The “immediacy” of technology has also created an impersonal approach to communicating (we have all said, “things get lost in translation via text or email”), a decrease in personal contact and increased safety concerns for our society, specifically our youth.

    One of the areas that the Youth Project and other youth focused organizations encounter with our teens, is the growing phenomenon known as “sexting”. (According to FindLaw: “In its various forms, sexting is the transmission of nude images or suggestive material via text messages. Such transmission can be textual or image-based and typically occurs via cell phones, smart phones, computers, etc.”)

    Current statistics show that:

    • 20% of teens admitted to sending or posting nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves
    • 39% of all teens admitted to sending or posting sexually suggestive messages
    • 48% of teenagers say they have received such messages

    Many of these teens report sending such photos as a “sexy present” for their boyfriend/girlfriend while others report sending them as a “joke”.  What these teenagers don’t realize is that these “presents” and “jokes” come at a great cost.  These stats do not even address the number of times those “presents” were re-gifted (forwarded and shared with others, without their consent or knowledge).

    A new regulation was passed by the California Assembly Education Committee known as SB919, which makes “student sexting” an expellable offense.  For the purpose of this bill, sexting is defined as “the sending or receiving of sexually explicit pictures or video by means of an electronic act.”  The ability to expel a student on grounds of sexting would apply if the message was sent…

    • On school grounds
    • Going to or from school
    • During lunch period regardless of whether or not on campus
    • During or in transit to or from a school sponsored activity.

    Sexting also carries more severe legal consequences.  While many states have adopted a new regulation system, which puts offenses on a tiered system with punishments ranging from a summary offense (similar to a traffic ticket) to a felony, California continues to link sexting with child pornography.  Currently, under state and federal law, “any person who knowingly distributes explicit images or video featuring a minor, with the “intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person could be found guilty of and imprisoned for distributing child pornography.” Regardless of age, an individual who produces, distributes or possesses an image of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct are committing a felony.

    The current consequences can include

    • Up to 6 years in prison
    • Up to $100,000 fine
    • Register as a sex offender (which stays with you for life)

    The act of sexting takes a mere couple of seconds, but it’s important to look at the long term repercussions of such an action.  Monitoring cell phone usage and talking with our teens about the consequences of sexting is important in lowering the statistics and keeping teens safe.

    Additional Resources:

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  • Violence Impacts Teens and Adults

    In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Youth Project is talking to kids about Healthy and Safe Relationships.

    Did you know?

    • 1 in 3 adolescents in the US is a victim of verbal, emotional, sexual and physical abuse by a dating partner
    • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a break-up
    • Only half of all tweens (age 11-14) claim to know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship
    • Twenty-four percent of 14 to 17-year-olds know at least one student who has been the victim of dating violence, yet 81% of parents either believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it is an issue
    • Less than 25% of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents
    • Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser

    Violence is related to certain risk factors.  Risks of having unhealthy relationships increase for teens who:

    •  Use alcohol or drugs.
    •  Can’t manage anger or frustration.
    •  Hang out with violent peers.
    •  Have multiple sexual partners.
    •  Have a friend involved in dating violence.
    •  Are depressed or anxious.
    •  Have learning difficulties and other problems at school.
    •  Don’t have parental supervision and support.
    •  Witness violence at home or in the community.
    •  Have a history of aggressive behavior or bullying.

    Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, and report binge drinking, suicide attempts, and physical fighting.  Victims may also carry the patterns of violence into future relationships.  However, dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.

    Red Flags and Warning Signs:  (From

    Teenagers generally do not tell people when they are involved in a violent relationship, so it is important for adults to be alert for signs that a teen may be involved in a relationship that is, or has the potential to become, abusive. Some of the following signs are just part of being a teenager. But, when these changes happen suddenly, or without an explanation, there may be cause for concern.

    • Does the individual have unexplained bruises, scratches, or injuries?
    • Do you see signs that the individual is afraid of his/her boyfriend or girlfriend?
    • Does the boyfriend or girlfriend seem to try to control the individual’s behavior, making all of the decisions, checking up on his/her behavior, demanding to know who the individual has been with, and acting jealous and possessive?
    • Does the boyfriend or girlfriend lash out, criticize, or insult the individual?
    • Does the individual apologize for the boyfriend or girlfriend’s behavior to you and others? Has the individual casually mentioned the boyfriend or girlfriend’s temper or violent behavior, but then laughed it off as a joke?
    • Have you seen the boyfriend or girlfriend be abusive towards other people or things?
    • Does the individual seem to have lost interest or to be giving up things that were once important? Has he/she lost interest in school or other activities?
    • Has the individual’s appearance or behavior suddenly changed?
    • Has the individual stopped spending time with friends and family?
    • Have you seen sudden changes in the individual’s mood or personality?
    • Is the individual becoming anxious or depressed, acting out, or being secretive? Is the individual avoiding eye contact, having ‘crying jags’ or getting ‘hysterical?’
    • Has the individual recently started using alcohol or drugs?

    If you suspect or know that your child is being abused by a partner, you have resources:

    • Call law enforcement or 911
    • Call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
    • Make a safety plan with your child
    • Stay in communication with your teen; let them know they can open up to you no matter what.


    For more information on how to understand Teen Dating Violence

    Additional Resources:

    Love is Respect

    Center for Disease Control and Prevention

    Break The Cycle

    Read more
  • Surviving a Break Up

    So, things didn’t work out the way you thought they would, huh? There really isn’t much anyone can say to make you feel better.  Brace yourself because plenty of people will try to cheer you up. They’ll say, “There are plenty of fish in the sea,” “Maybe you’ll find someone better,” or, “You’re young, you have plenty of time to find someone else.”

    The truth is that breaking up is hard. No matter what kind of relationship you had with the person, you both invested time into each other hoping that the relationship would last. Now you find yourself let down.

    You’ve spent so much time with your partner and now that you are no longer together, you don’t know what to do.

    Can we really “Just be Friends?”

    It’s entirely up to the two of you to decide if you can be friends or if you want to at all. If you both feel strongly about being friends after the break up, be clear with each other about your boundaries. In other words, what can you do, and what can’t you do. Do not violate those boundaries.

    Give each other space. You don’t have to decide right now if you’re still going to be friends. Take some time to think about it.

    If you can’t agree to be friends, at least agree not to be enemies.


    Sometimes when people break up, they gather the gifts and photos that they have given to each other, put them in a box, and give them back.  Usually, this is done more out of spite than out of consideration.  The truth is that those things were given to you out of love. Even if the love isn’t there now, it was at one time.  If it is too painful to look at these things, put them in a box and store them. Respect the other person by keeping the memories.


    Don’t put your friends or siblings in the middle of your relationship. If you need to talk to the person you broke up with, talk to him or her yourself. Timing is key.

    Will I ever get over this?

    Give yourself some time to deal with this.  There is definitely a grieving process that you’ll go through and there is no way to say how long that will be. You may feel depressed, lonely, and confused.  With time, those feelings will go away.

    • If you’re feeling really depressed, it’s a good idea to talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
    • Try to avoid getting into another relationship soon after breaking up.  Give yourself some time to heal.

    What can I do next time?

    First of all, there will be a “next time.”  You will have other relationships and the best thing you can do is learn from each of them.

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  • Vaginitis

    Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina and the vulva. It occurs when the normal balance within the vagina is upset, allowing an excess of organisms to produce an excess of waste.

    There are three types of vaginitis:
    gardnerella, monilia, and trichomoniasis.

    How is it spread?

    Only garnerella and monilia are found in the vagina of healthy women. Mothers can pass monilia and trichomoniasis to their babies at birth.A male having unprotected sex with a female that has vaginitis can become infected.

    What are the symptoms?

    Each type of vaginitis has specific symptoms.

    Garnerella is a bacteria and is caused when the bacterial balance that normally exists in a vagina is upset.

    The symptoms include

    • Burning feeling when urinating
    • Itching and swelling of the vulva
    • Gray, paste-like discharge
    • Foul smelling vaginal odor

    Monilia is a fungus which is normally present in small, harmless quantities in the mouth, digestive tract and vagina. When the balance of the vagina is upset or additional monilia organisms are introduced into the vagina, the fungus grows very quickly.

    The symptoms of monilia are

    • A cheese-like vaginal discharge
    • Vaginal itching and burning

    Trichomoniasis is caused by a protozoal organism that is usually passed from one person to another during sex.

    The symptoms are

    • Abnormal vaginal discharge
    • Itching
    • Burning feeling when urinating

    How is it diagnosed?

    Vaginitis is diagnosed by lab tests and physical examination.

    What is the treatment?

    Once vaginitis has been diagnosed, a prescription for medicine will be given to control the infecting organism.

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  • Herpes

    Herpes is an infection and is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). When the infection is on the mouth, it is called oral herpes. When it is on or near the sex organs it is called genital herpes.

    What are the symptoms of oral herpes?

    Have you ever heard of “cold sores” or “fever blisters”? These are symptoms of oral herpes. The sores usually show up on the lips or inside of the mouth. The sores are harmless in children and adults but they are very harmful to newborns. Oral herpes in adults is usually a “flare-up” of a childhood infection.

    How is herpes spread?

    Touching, kissing, and sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse spread herpes. It can be passed from one partner to another, or from one part of the body to another. It was once thought that contact with open sores was the only way to get herpes. We now know that it is possible, but less likely, to get herpes from someone at a time when there are no sores. Moist areas of the mouth, anus, vulva, vagina, penis, and the eyes are very easily infected. Skin can be infected if it is cut, chafed, or burned or has a rash or other sores.

    How is herpes diagnosed?

    Herpes is diagnosed by testing fluid taken from the sores. Sores are often seen during pelvic exams. If you suspect you have herpes sores, see a clinician as soon as possible. It is important to be sure that the sores are herpes. Other serious sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, may look like herpes but need different treatment. A blood test can tell if you have been exposed to the herpes virus.

    How can symptoms be relieved?

    Warm baths or wet tea bags (not herbal) may give relief. Loose cotton clothes will help prevent chafing. Because moisture can slow healing, keep the sores dry by sprinkling cornstarch in underwear. Cool compresses held to the sores a few minutes several times a day may help. Ice packs may also be soothing. Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may help relieve pain and fever.

    A clinician can prescribe acyclovir, famiciclovir, or valacyclovir. They may speed up the healing of sores and weaken the virus. Using these medicines only during outbreaks is called episodic therapy.

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  • Genital Herpes (HSV)

    Genital herpes is a contagious viral infection that affects an estimated 30 million Americans. The infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

    There are two types of HSV and both can cause the symptoms of genital herpes. The virus remains in certain nerve cells of the body for life, causing periodic symptoms in some people.

    How is it spread?

    Genital herpes is usually acquired by sexual contact with someone who has an outbreak of herpes sores in the genital area.

    Someone who has oral herpes can transmit the infection to the genital area of a partner during oral-genital sex. The virus is rarely spread by contact with objects such as a toilet seat or hot tub.

    What are the symptoms?

    Symptoms vary widely from person to person. When the first symptoms occur, they usually appear within 2 to 10 days of exposure.

    The early symptoms include

    * Itching or burning sensation in genital area
    * Pain in the legs, buttocks, or genital area
    * Abnormal vaginal discharge
    * A feeling of pressure in the abdominal region
    * Sores occur on the cervix in women and in the urinary passage in men
    * Fever
    * Headache
    * Muscle aches
    * Painful or difficult urination

    How is it diagnosed?

    The most accurate method of diagnosis is by viral culture. The sore is swabbed and the sample is added to a laboratory culture. Results take 1-2 days.

    What is the treatment?

    * Topical or oral antiviral medication
    * Keep infected area clean and dry
    * Try to avoid touching sores
    * Avoid sexual contact from the time symptoms are first recognized until the sores are completely healed

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  • Chlamydia


    Chalamydial infection is a bacterium that is transmitted during vaginal or anal sexual contact with someone who is infected.

    While Chlamydia is more common among women, men are very susceptible to the infection. Gone untreated, chlamydia in men typically causes urethral infection, but may also result in complications such as swollen and tender testicles.

    How is it spread?

    Chlamydia is transmitted through vaginal or anal sexual contact with someone who is infected.

    What are the symptoms?

    • Abnormal genital discharge or pain during urination.
    • Symptoms usually occur 1-3 weeks after exposure
    • In males, the infection causes swelling in the scrotal area
    • May cause rectal inflammation
    • Bacteria may be found in the throat as a result of oral sexual contact with an infected partner

    How is it diagnosed?

    Until recently, the only way to diagnose chlamydia was to take a sample of secretions from a patient’s genital area and attempt to grow the organism in a specialized tissue culture in the lab.

    While this method is the most accurate, it is expensive, technically difficult, and results are not available for up to 3 days.

    Now, there are rapid tests that use sophisticated techniques and a dye to detect bacterial proteins. These tests are slightly less accurate and can be performed during routine checkups.

    What is the treatment?

    Chlamydia is treated by a 7-day course of antibiotics such as tetracycline. Penicillin, which is often used for treating STD’s, is not effective against treating chlamydial infections.

    Read more


The Youth Project prides itself on creating a safe, non-judgmental and confidential setting in which students speak freely and can be assured that the stories they share remain private. However, all students are informed that we are a mandated reporting agency, meaning: if we have reasonable suspicion that a child (under the age of 18) has been mistreated, we are required to file a report with the necessary agencies.

We will report when a student shares information on:
Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Harm to Themselves, Sexual Abuse, Neglect, Harm to Others

All sessions are confidential. However, we are a mandated reporting agency and if a student expresses a desire to harm himself or others or if there is reason to suspect child abuse or neglect, we are obligated to report to the appropriate agency. ALL STUDENTS are reminded of this before every session.***


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