Take a peek inside the life of a teenager. It comes with a hazard warning, as it may cause you some disturbance.
I grabbed these results from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance (YRBS) the United States 2015, conducted by the Centre for Disease Control. During the 30 days before the survey:
- 41.5 percent of high school students nationwide among the 61.3 percent who drove a car or other vehicle had texted or e-mailed while driving.
- 32.8 percent had drunk alcohol.
- 10.8 percent had smoked cigarettes.
- 7.3 percent had used smokeless tobacco.
- 21.7 percent had used marijuana.
During the 12 months before the survey:
- 15.5 percent had been electronically bullied.
- 20.2 percent had been bullied on school property.
- 8.6 percent had attempted suicide.
- 41.2 percent of students had never had sexual intercourse.
- 30.1 percent currently sexually active.
- 11.5 percent had had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their life.
- 56.9 percent had used a condom during their last sexual intercourse.
- 41.7 percent had played video or computer games or used a computer for something that was not school work for three or more hours per day on an average school day.
One expects high-risk and experimental behaviour from teens, pushing boundaries is what they do best. It's their way of learning. South African schools do little to prepare teens to make critical decisions leaving them at risk for unintended pregnancies, HIV/AIDS/STI's and emotional romantic pain. According to the 2015 annual school survey, over 15,000 pupils fell pregnant during the academic year. According to a representative national survey conducted by the Human Science Research Council young girls are more likely to have early sex than boys. Youths with an earlier age of sexual debut were less likely to have used condoms. Hence the high incidence of HIV/AIDS/STI's in girls age 15-24 years old.
Think back to when you were a teenager. Consider what motivated you to have sex. I also invite you to think about why you did not have sex.
The big drivers for teens to early sexual play include peer pressure, low self-esteem, coercion, sex for money, pessimism, and lack of communication with parents. Add in old fashioned sexual attraction, new social and media pressure, desire to "normalise" oneself in the belief that everyone is doing it. The incorrect sexuality education, such as abstinence-only sex ed, in which fear based education is all that is on offer, is a driver to being sexual. Boredom and the desire to be loved are biggies too.
Spending so much time on screen, advertising their bodies and lives on Instagram, and Facebook, gets teens to feel a whole lot more pressure to be sexual or pretend to being sexual.
And yet ignorance and fear abound with teens turn to search engine Google to give them a helping hand. The most commonly searched questions are on sexual health. STI/HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, birth control, abortion. Every Sunday night, for many years, I worked online with the Praekelt Foundation, answering teen questions from youth throughout Africa. The questions centred around masturbation, virginity, consent, oral sex and "does he/she love me"? questions poured in, as did many aching shy emerging LGBTI voices.
I would log off, shattered, concerned about the many youths who due to deliberate withholding of information from schools, parents and religious organisations, were at risk for unpleasant, abusive sexual experiences. I think it is important for us to wonder why teens do NOT have sexual play. What can we learn from these teens who are able to buck the pressure and natural instinctive curiosity and delay or avoid being sexual?
Seventeen Magazine and the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a national survey of 510 adolescents ages 12 to 17, in 2002. These were youth aged 15 to 17 years of age who had not "had sex": Their reasons include
- 83 percent = "worried about pregnancy."
- 74 percent = "conscious decision" they had made to wait.
- 73 percent = "worried about STDs."
- 64 percent = "worry about what their parents might think."
- 63 percent = "have not met the right person."
- 63 percent = "far too young."
- 52 percent = "religious beliefs."
Protective factors kick in. If you are wanting your teen to delay being sexual, provide these protective factors:
- Comprehensive sexuality education in which you teach them all about sexuality, the advantages of delaying their first sexual debut and critical thinking for when they get into a sexual situation.
- Become an askable parent to ensure your kid comes to you before going to Google.
- Use teachable moments - there is a lot of salacious gossips, misinformation about pornography, rape, violence against women, that are constantly in the news. Use these opportunities to share your values of gender, respect, love and consent.
- Do not allow religion to be your go-to place in providing protection for your child. A time will come when he/she/they will question religion and find that they still get horny despite believing in religion and simply feel guilty for masturbating.
- Discuss pleasure. Big time. Chasing orgasms is a big driver to wanting sexual play. Place it within your own value system whilst recognising the joy that pleasure brings.
- Discuss porn with them and let them know it is all a big fat act!
- And if you're just too nervous to talk to your kids about sex, put this link into their Instagram account. It is the 6 top sex ed Apps for teens.
- Watch #Being thirteen- inside the secret world of teens.