Health

Fearful of parents, many teens still avoid sex-related health care

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Nearly one in five U.S. teens between the ages of 15 and 17 are not seeking out sexual or reproductive health care because they're afraid their parents will find out, according to a data analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics.

"This research really falls in line with a lot of other research that a lot of other reproductive health organizations have done," said Casey Copen, one of the study's authors. "So it’s not surprising, but it does make the statistics more current."

Under California law, teenagers can get reproductive care and treatment for sexual issues confidentially, without parental consent or notification. 

The Center for Health Statistics studied 2013-2015 data compiled by the National Survey of Family Growth. It found that nearly 18 percent of youths between 15 and 17 won't go to a provider at all because of confidentiality concerns.

Celinda Vasquez of Planned Parenthood L.A. said this is why her organization has changed its sex education curriculum into one that has what she calls a "rights-based framework."

"It goes above and beyond the birds and the bees," Vasquez said. "It’s really about advocating for their own healthcare needs ... and fostering a dialogue about gender roles, healthy relationships and media stereotypes."

Additionally, Planned Parenthood L.A. now has sexual education programs for adolescents and parents. 

The survey also found that teenagers who spend time alone with a health care provider are significantly more likely to receive contraceptive care and treatment for sexual diseases than those who don’t.