$29, plus $4.95 shipping

Produced by Stephen Genuis M.D and Shelagh Genuis BScOT

K.E.G. Publishing, 2911-66 St. Edmonton, AB,

T6K4C1, (403)461-1606

Reviewed by Sue Careless

A video on sexually transmitted diseases could be so statistically heavy that it would bore its audience to tears or such a downer it would be tuned out. Teen Sex: Challenge and Decision informs without boring and gives kids positive solutions.

The narrator and co-producer, Stephen Genuis (pronounced Jenis), has two real strategies: he knows both his data and his audience. An obstetrician and gynaecologist with many articles published in learned journals, he also has a high number of teens in his practise. As associate professor at the University of Alberta, he has won several teaching awards. He knows and respects young people; never talks down to them.

Teen Sex compliments Genuis’ national best-selling book, Risky Sex, which is highly technical and long on statistics. The video has a calm yet engaging approach teens will enjoy. Cool and with it, it doesn’t try to be frenetic or over the top. Nor does it gross out its audience out with graphic disease photos.

Instead, human dilemmas are profiled. There is the young man who felt he could fool around while he was young and settle down later, only to discover, “I’ve destroyed my family and myself.” His wife and one of his two children have AIDS; his uninfected child will be left an orphan.

There is the girl who is still, technically, a virgin, but who has had enough genital contact to have  contracted an incurable STD. And there is the vulnerable woman whose partner even attended church with her, yet never told her he had AIDS, although he knew until she had acquired the deadly disease too.

Genius is realistic. “The last thing you’re thinking of as a teen is having children, but you need to think of your future family.” And again, “When you’re drunk and high you do things you would never normally consider.”

A variety of myths are exploded.  The myth that STDs are easy to get rid of. The infection itself may be treatable but the damage is done, to say the fallopian tubes, is irreparable. And there are no cures for viruses, whether they be Human Papilloma Virus, HIV or herpes.

Then there is the myth that only women are affected by STDs. Certainly AIDS hits men hard and HPV can cause cancer of the penis.

What about the misconception that those having sex are having a great time while those not having sex are miserable losers? A lot of adolescent sex is a vain attempt to fulfill a basic need to be loved. Teens who are not getting love, care, and attention turn to sex, drugs, and alcohol – and are still unhappy.

Many adults believe that kids have too many hormones to listen to even good advice. But Genuis has done enough teaching and counselling to known that it simply not true. Teen Sex: Challenge and Decision will encourage young people to reconsider, re-evaluate and redirect their lives. “Is my current life-style going to rob me of who I want to be?”

Genuis makes an important distinction between SS STDs, that is skin-to-skin or skin-to-sore genital contact and DD STDs, discharge diseases.

A condom only protects the skin of the penis, the skin of the vagina and the discharge from both. But a condom does not protect the rest of the genital area. So SS STDs such as HPV and herpes can be transmitted even with a condom. “It is absolutely true that the proper and consistent use of a condom decreases but does not eliminate discharge-related disease” such as AIDS, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea.

Teen Sex would make a strong opener for a unit on STDs. Chapters from Risky Sex should be assigned for the more detailed medical information needed for research essays. Both Teen Sex and Risky Sex should be in every school library from grade seven and up. It is vital to have Canadian resources in Canadian schools.

No religious language is used in any of Genuis’ materials so they are suitable for public school settings. Finally,  not only schools but also youth groups, community centres and teen camps should view this video.

Teachers and parents may want several other resources. Genuis and his wife Shelagh have had a collection of medical papers on “Adolescent Sexuality” published in both the prestigious Lancet and Journal of the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Canada that would provide strong evidence for the case against condom promotion in schools.

Genuis’ Risky Sex Presentation Kit includes the book Risky Sex and his medical papers, along with 90 slides. There is an outline of text for each slide and 35 challenging questions and possible responses suitable for discussion. Genuis himself comes across in Teen Sex as respectful and caring; old enough to know what he’s talking about but young enough to be in touch with young people. He keeps statistics to a minimum in Teen Sex, so the video should have strong staying power and universal appeal.

Rather that diagrams and charts, young people are pictured front and centre. Teens know when the looks, music and language are passé. These kids look and sound right for the nineties. If your health videos are older than five years, it’s time to update. Neither you nor your kids will be embarrassed by selecting Teen Sex: Challenge and Decision. [the Interim reviewed the second edition of Risky Sex in June, 1993]