Characteristics of a Sexually Healthy Teen

According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), a sexually healthy adolescent has the following characteristics:


Appreciates Own Body

  • Understands pubertal change
  • Views pubertal changes as normal
  • Practices health-promoting behaviors, such as abstinence from alcohol and other drugs and undergoing regular check-ups

Takes Responsibility For Own Behaviors

  • Identifies own values
  • Decides what is personally “right” and acts on these values
  • Understands consequences of actions
  • Understands that media messages can create unrealistic expectations related to sexuality and intimate relationships
  • Is able to distinguish personal desires from that of the peer group
  • Understands how alcohol and other drugs can impair decision-making
  • Recognizes behavior that may be self-destructive and can seek help

Is Knowledgeable About Sexuality Issues

  • Enjoys sexual feelings without necessarily acting upon them
  • Understands the consequences of sexual behaviors
  • Makes personal decisions about masturbation consistent with personal values
  • Makes personal decisions about sexual behaviors with a partner consistent with personal values
  • Understands own gender identity
  • Understands effect of gender role stereotypes and makes choices about appropriate roles for oneself
  • Understands own sexual orientation
  • Seeks further information about sexuality as needed
  • Understands peer and cultural pressure to become sexually involved
  • Accepts people with different values and experiences

Relationships With Parents And Family Members

Communicates Effectively With Family About Issues, Including Sexuality

  • Maintains appropriate balance between family roles and responsibilities and growing need for independence
  • Is able to negotiate with family on boundaries
  • Respects rights of others
  • Demonstrates respect for adults

Understands And Seeks Information About Parents’ And Family’s Values, And Considers Them In Developing One’s Own Values

  • Asks questions of parents and other trusted adults about sexual issues
  • Can accept trusted adults’ guidance about sexual issues
  • Tries to understand parental point of view


Interacts With Both Genders In Appropriate and Respectful Ways

  • Communicates effectively with friends
  • Has friendship with males and females
  • Is able to form empathetic relationships
  • Is able to identify and avoid exploitative relationships
  • Understands and rejects sexual harassing behaviors
  • Respects others’ right to privacy
  • Respects others’ confidences

Acts On One’s Own Values And Beliefs When They Conflict With Peers

  • Understands pressures to be popular and accepted and makes decisions consistent with own values

Romantic Partners

Expresses Love And Intimacy In Developmentally Appropriate Ways

  • Believes that boys and girls have equal rights and responsibilities for love and sexual relationships
  • Communicates desire not to engage in sexual behaviors and accepts refusals to engage in sexual behaviors
  • Is able to distinguish between love and sexual attraction
  • Seeks to understand and empathize with partner

Has The Skills To Evaluate Readiness For Mature Sexual Relationships

  • Talks with a partner about sexual behaviors before they occur
  • Is able to communicate and negotiate sexual behaviors
  • If having intercourse, protects self and partner from unintended pregnancy and diseases through effective use of contraception and condoms and other safer sex practices
  • Knows how to use and access the health care system, community agencies, religious institutions, and schools, and seeks advice, information, and services as needed