Post No.: 0639
Adolescents can be extremely overconfident in their own abilities and put themselves across as know-it-alls. Not all but too many (males in particular) will braggadociously believe they can beat anyone in a fight. Many won’t consider that cancer, paralysing injury or other serious health conditions will affect them at this age. And all this reflects in the risks they’ll take, such as concerning alcohol consumption, smoking and sexual practices.
Alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse in adulthood is higher amongst high popularity adolescents – maybe because of the cultural association between socialising and drinking alcohol? Pseudo-mature teenagers (those who act ‘cool’ by conducting in minor deviant acts like bingeing on alcohol, experimenting in early intimate involvements and forming ‘mean girl’ cliques) may be popular when as teenagers – but if they continue behaving in this way, their popularity will gradually drop as they reach their early-twenties. They have a higher likelihood of conducting in wider substance abuse, criminal behaviours and having trouble maintaining close relationships too.
If someone develops a smoking or smokeless tobacco habit – they’ll likely have began during their teenage years. Children who smoke are more likely to have parents who smoke – although we can sensibly say that if one is copying the other, it’ll more likely be the child copying the parent! It could be the case that ‘genes for smoking’ (inherited from one’s parents biologically) are what made both the parent and child choose to smoke? Or it could be their wider shared environment that’s the primary factor – perhaps a culture where cigarettes are marketing heavily? It could be that a child’s socio-economic status and wider upbringing environment are inherited from the parents too? (Albeit completely shielding one’s child from ever encountering cigarettes outside of the home is a largely unreasonable expectation to place on parents.)
When assessing correlational data studies, we need to employ this sort of critical thinking and consider all possible explanations and in turn possible solutions. It could be argued that, from a societal point of view, if there were no cigarettes in the environment at all then no one would smoke them because logically no one could smoke them.
Anyway, our health-risk behaviours during adolescence (e.g. recreational drug or ergogenic substance abuse, sexual risk behaviours, self-injurious behaviours, being either overweight or underweight) correlate with our health-risk behaviours during adulthood (e.g. adolescent marijuana use is linked with using harder drugs in adulthood and therefore its associated problems/diseases in later adulthood, and an early engagement in sexual intercourse predicts a lower use of protection during sex and an increased incidence of STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in adulthood, as well as adolescent pregnancies).
Children at school age require sex education and their later sex needs to be talked about before they receive their ‘education’ from other sources i.e. usually from online pornography and social media. For the most part, pornography doesn’t represent real-life sex and can set up harmful expectations regarding how females can be treated, for instance, even if the sex is consensual (some practices are directly dangerous too e.g. choking or gagging during sex).
Pornography influences people’s perceptions of what they think they can do or get away with during sex. Or it might pressure adolescents into doing certain things because they think that it’s what they must do to be ‘normal’. But, like other scripted movies, they should understand that it’s a part of the entertainment rather than education industry. Toxic masculinity is also partially the reason why women get treated badly – men are made to believe that ‘real men’ dominate and treat ‘their women’ as the lesser gender, or that ‘real men’ deserve to mate with all the women they can. Most women want more communication and something tender yet intense, at least some of the time.
It might be helpful for adolescents to learn that adult performers and sex workers in general are humans too, not mere objects. They face unique mental health challenges of social stigma and shaming, such as extreme cyber bullying – combined with not always being able to openly discuss how their day went with their friends or family. A thick skin can only be so thick. Some are former sex abuse survivors who are trying to regain control of their sexual experiences by having sex on their own terms. If the industry is well regulated, there’ll be enforced codes of conduct between performers, and regular STI testing. Many sex workers are happy about their careers and receive tremendous support from their colleagues, but for others it’s nowhere near their first choice of career and they may be pressured into taking jobs that are out of their comfort zone.
Again due to the influence of pornography, women aren’t forced to yet nevertheless feel hugely pressured to conform to practices like removing all their pubic hairs because people now have these expectations. This is often purported to be for hygiene purposes but something can be furry but clean, and something can look clean but isn’t since germs aren’t visible to the naked eye. (It’s like a person can wear makeup and look great, but not regularly clean their makeup brushes and throw away old lipsticks, etc. thus isn’t actually being that clean.) This is the substitution heuristic at work.
Don’t feel pressured into sending nude pictures of yourself to a boyfriend. You could hold the moral and legal high ground but end up being the one who pays the cost and gets hurt anyway if they send that picture to others without your consent. This isn’t to blame the victim if something goes wrong afterwards but to encourage being street smart. The same with drink spiking. It’s down to perpetrators to stop perpetrating, yet it’s still wise to look both ways before crossing a zebra crossing, metaphorically speaking. (And what else should we encourage – to not be street smart?!) Miniaturised technologies make detecting when surreptitious videos are being taken extremely difficult though.
At school age, girls receiving nude or indecent pictures (cyber-flashing) on their phones, or receiving requests for them by boys, has become such a normalised event that most girls think it’s not worth bothering reporting to teachers or parents about. Schools and universities usually want to keep their sexual misconduct investigations down to protect their public reputations too. Sexual name-calling, unwanted sexual comments, rumours of sexual promiscuity, the pressure to perform sexual acts, inappropriate touching and sexual assault are all examples of sexual harassment. Due to what’s portrayed online and perhaps on television, some adolescents don’t know what a truly healthy relationship looks like anymore.
Adolescents need to learn what counts as rape. Verbally receiving the other person’s consent may not be sufficient to escape an allegation. We also need to account for power dynamics, like a teacher over a student. Now it’s a knotty legal area to state in broad terms but, for instance, some lies that are said in order to obtain sex will vitiate (cancel out) any given consent because then such consent will not be informed. Such lies can range from claiming to be wearing a condom or taking one off without consent, being on the pill, or not having an STI when one does, to claiming to being single, being of a different age, or even gender, than one says one is, or pretending to be wealthier than one is in order to attract someone into bed. If some of these lies are argued to be ‘legitimate tactics’ in the dating game then where shall we draw the line between which lies are acceptable and which will vitiate any consent for sex?
Women can orgasm even when scared. Although connected, it’s more of a physiological response than a psychological one; just like we are able to cry without feeling sad. Men can get erections when scared too – well men can even have erections when unconscious (asleep) and people cannot give their consent when they’re unconscious. And even if an act was pleasurable, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be rape; just like being drugged against your will might make you feel pleasure but it was still forced upon you without your consent. Marital rape also exists.
There are however rightful moral and legal reasons why the accused should be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty with evidence – just imagine yourself on the other side of a sudden allegation. (If multiple independent people accuse the same individual then that helps build a case though.) And we can’t go accusing ‘all men as x’ otherwise we can go accusing ‘all women as y’ and we’ll get nowhere except more divided and defensive rather than open and cooperative.
Yet every single sexual harassment, stalking or rape allegation must be listened to and taken incredibly seriously. They must be investigated thoroughly to look for evidence in a timely manner. And here we should avoid victim-blaming because unless there was unambiguous and informed consent given for a specific act while a person was sufficiently compos mentis (having full control of their mind e.g. not inebriated) then no one ever ‘asks for it’, whatever they were wearing or however much they flirted. If a male spots a drunken female and really does care about her welfare then he should seek a female to assist in looking after her. Basically, play it safe – for everyone’s sake.
Most sexual crimes are committed by someone that the victim/survivor ultimately knows. And it’s not just males but females, and not just the poor but rich, who we must watch out for (e.g. Ghislaine Maxwell).
There are also risks with rough sex and accidental death by strangulation (which might be used as a cover-up excuse for an intentional murder attempt in some cases). ‘Consent for sexual gratification’ is no longer a viable defence in almost all cases that involve harming or killing someone under ‘rough sex gone wrong’, at least in England and Wales, now. This law clarifies that the responsibility is upon whoever treats another person roughly to not go too roughly even if consent exists.
Now it’s difficult to ascertain whether LGBTQIA+ education could shape the later sexual orientations of children? Sexual orientation is not 100% genetically determined because there exist genetically identical twins with discordant sexual orientations, hence there must be a social or environmental component. But what age these influences have an effect (e.g. it’s already happened in the uterine environment, before puberty, after puberty?) and how large each effect is, are yet clear.
We should accept and support a person’s sexual orientation, whatever it is or ends up becoming, yet should we knowingly potentially influence it? Yet if children aren’t educated to be aware of LGBTQIA+ issues then howl they learn to become tolerant of those who are LGBTQIA+? Far more research is required (although it won’t be from experimental but observational studies, for ethical reasons). It’s a difficult dilemma that’s presently playing out across schools. You can share what you think by replying to the tweet linked to the Twitter comment button below.
…It can be tricky for adolescents, who are all of a sudden being filled with hormones that make them feel highly concupiscent, to navigate these minefields. (And it’s peculiar why humans evolved to develop spots or acne during a time when physical appearance and attraction suddenly matter immensely?! Maybe it’s to urge adolescents to suddenly care about their appearance? But then I’m sure adolescents had spots many millennia before mirrors were invented. Maybe it’s just a side-effect of human ancestors becoming less hairy? Well I guess it doesn’t matter enough because adolescents are still going to have sex anyway!) But they must learn to navigate these minefields.
Woof! The safest way for consent to be informed and unambiguous is for it to blossom from a loving and respectful relationship that took time to develop, rather than a one-night stand. Date someone for a while before even thinking about sleeping with them. But perhaps I’m just an old-fashioned pup.