What Every High Schooler Needs to Know About Sex

"This is a part of a larger series of resources, including What Every Kindergartener, What Every Elementary School Kid, What Every Preteen, and What Every Middle Schooler Needs to Know About Sex. Depending on the ages of your kids, you might want to check out those, as well."  -Barrett Johnson


Our "Critical Conversations" presentation gives practical tools for parents as they help guide their kids through these issues. If you feel we can serve your church, school, or community group, contact us at infoforfamilies@gmail.com.

Our "Critical Conversations" presentation gives practical tools for parents as they help guide their kids through these issues. If you feel we can serve your church, school, or community group, contact us at infoforfamilies@gmail.com.

By the time our kids enter high school, they are fully aware of the sexual component of their lives. Even if they are somewhat “inexperienced,” they still have plenty of thoughts and drives that God has placed within them. These things are very good, but if they are not managed with wisdom, they have the potential to be destructive. Parents have a God-given responsibility to help their kids to make wise choices.

In our ministry of equipping parents to help their kids have a healthy perspective of sex and relationships, we like to use the concept of “navigating.” Just as a rafting guide helps people to navigate the hazards that are always part of a whitewater adventure, a parent’s job is to help their kids to successfully get through the many relational and sexual challenges that every person will encounter.

Helping parents to do that job right is the reason that I wrote The Talks. Our older teenage kids are in desperate need of guidance and accountability. They need trusted adults to help them to process the many feelings and experiences they will have during these tumultuous years.  

Parents of high school aged kids must see their role as coach and guide. We must have specific, detailed conversations about the issues and challenges that our kids are facing…while they are facing them. We must lead as we go. To stick with the whitewater illustration, the high school years are like being in the middle of the river with class 3 and 4 rapids coming around every bend. The guide is giving directions, instructing on what to expect and do, and helping his people to learn from their mistakes before they tackle the next challenge.  

Note that whitewater rafting is both thrilling AND dangerous. Along the way, people will often get hurt: everything from sore muscles to various bumps and bruises. But everything is usually okay at the end of the day as long as there weren’t any significant injuries.

In the same way, our kids are likely going to have a few emotional and spiritual bruises as they get through these years. Parents who think they can fully protect their kids from that are naive. It rarely happens. However, we can and should be diligent to try to help our kids to navigate this stage of life without too much significant damage. Hopefully, they can then enter marriage free of significant baggage. And thankfully, the cross of Christ offers us the redemption of even our biggest mistakes.

There is a lot our kids will face and our simple goal should be to help them get through it. That said, this list should probably be titled something a little more broad, such as “What Every High Schooler Needs to Know About Sex, Dating, and the Opposite Sex.”

Note that this list and this blog presume that God created sex and that He gives us parameters to enjoy it to the fullest. This includes saving it for marriage. That said, if you assume that our kids are going to have sex as teens and that parents should prepare them for that realty, then you are probably reading the wrong blog. Your list will probably look different than mine. Yes, many kids WILL have sex before marriage. And yes, I am thankful that God’s grace is the remedy for all of our shortcomings. But for parents who want to help their kids to navigate the rapids with as few bumps and bruises as possible, we should look to God’s standard and diligently strive to help them prepare for a life of sexual purity.

This is not an exhaustive list. And it shouldn’t serve as a legalistic checklist. But by the time he or she hits the middle of high school (and has the freedom of a driver’s license), your child should have some awareness of the following:

1. Everything that a Middle Schooler Knows About Sex, plus…

2. My parents have been deliberate to communicate that sex is an incredibly beautiful gift from God. However, outside the security of marriage, it has the power to ruin relationships, not make them stronger.

3. I am learning about the chemical bonds that are formed when two people connect physically. My parents have told me about the effects of “oxytocin” and how it serves as a “bonding chemical” in physically intimate relationships.Thus, I am learning not to be careless in my interaction with the opposite sex.

4. My parents have coached in some “scripts” I can use to get out of potentially tempting situations.

5. I know that it is not wise for me to be alone somewhere with someone that I am in a romantic relationship with.

6. With regard to my dating relationships, my parents are periodically asking me (and the person I am dating) about physical boundaries. They love me enough to provide accountability for us.

7. Self-gratification and the use of p@rn has the power to make one selfish. I know that if I get into the habit of doing that, I run the real risk of bringing a self-centered expectation of sex to my eventual marriage. This has the potential to undermine the power that sex should have to strengthen my relationship.

8. Instead of asking “how far is too far” sexually, I am asking God to show me what is the most wise thing for me to do to guard my heart, mind, and body.

9. I know that using drugs and alcohol can make me vulnerable to sexual abuse by someone who can easily take advantage of me. I am therefore very careful. I know to NEVER accept a drink that someone gives me at a party.

10. My sex drive can tempt me to think only of my needs. I am learning that God desires for me to give it generously to one person who I commit myself to for life.

11. My sexuality is more than just a physical drive. It offers a transcendent emotional and spiritual connection with another person that should not be taken lightly.

12. I will likely make some mistakes along the way as I discover God’s gift of my sexuality. I will have some regrets. I will likely have emotional wounds. But I am learning that God’s grace and love are sufficient to restore me and make me whole.


What else would you add to this list? Feel free to comment below.

*Are your kids (and their friends) in the middle of facing some issues brought on by a rapidly changing relational and sexual landscape? They need your help, but are you equipped to help them?  I invite you to get a copy of The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Critical Conversations About Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. This valuable resource has been developed to assist parents as they lead their kids to navigate our hyper-sexualized culture. It is on sale at Amazon at a discounted price.

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