- Know Your Rights: Did you know California teens have a right to comprehensive sex education? Make sure your high school sex ed covers topics such as sexual assault and coercion, gender identity and healthy relationships. To find out all the topics that must be covered in class, check out TeenSource. Not getting that information? Let us know! Teens also have a right to access FREE and CONFIDENTIAL health care services during school hours, like birth control, STD testing, and more! Plus, teen have a right to stay in school if they are pregnant or parenting. Take a minute to brush up on all of your rights before you head back to school.
- Get Tested: About half of all sexually active teens will get a sexually transmitted disease (STD for short) before their 25th birthday and many won’t even know it. The most common types of STDs have NO symptoms at all! That’s why it’s important to get tested or you could put yourself and your partner at risk. Learn more about STDs and how to get tested, then find a clinic near you. It’s easy and FREE!
- Get Vaccinated: One very common STD – Human Papillomavirus (HPV), can cause cancer or genital warts, but there’s a vaccine you can get to protect yourself. The earlier you get the HPV vaccination, the better – as it is more effective BEFORE you become sexually active. If you are already sexually active, it isn’t too late – ask your local health center for more information. Many clinics provide the HPV vaccine for free and you don’t need a parent’s permission to get vaccinated. Find a clinic near you that offers the HPV vaccine. The vaccine requires three shots so make sure you complete them!
- Get Free Condoms: Besides abstinence (not having sex), condoms are the only method to protect against pregnancy AND STDs! Find a location to pick up FREE condoms near you! Before you get busy with homework and tests, stock up on free condoms. You never know when you or a friend might need them.
- Get a Birth Control Method that is Right for You: When you’re ready to start looking for birth control, you’ll find so many options. That’s why it’s important you find the one that is right for you. Learn about different birth control options and think about the one that fits best into your lifestyle so you’ll use it regularly. If you want to start birth control or get a new method, find a clinic near you! Emergency contraception (EC) is also a good idea to have on hand in case you are unable to use your regular method, run out of your regular method or you think your regular method may have failed Ask your provider to give you EC to take home in case you or your friend need it in the future.
- Do a Relationship Check In: When it comes to all of the relationships in your life (friends, family, romantic relationships), it is important to make sure they are healthy, positive parts of your life! Unhealthy romantic relationships are common, especially for teens. Be sure your partner listens to you and respects you. That’s important for having a healthy romantic relationship. Your peers and friends are also important. Think about how they treat you and how you treat them. Remember there is no reason to use peer pressure or bully your friends. If you’re struggling with relationships in your life, it’s a good idea to talk with your parents or another trusted adult. Check out TeenSource’s tips for talking to your parents and direct them to Talk With Your Kids if they need help talking to you!
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We hope these tips help you have a safe and healthy start to your school year! There’s a lot to think about when it comes to school and taking care of your health now can save stress later!