Adolescent Sexuality Thesis

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Adolescent Sexuality

Adolescence is a time of change, physically, emotionally and mentally for young people. They are making a transition from their role of child, to their role of young Adolescence when they will be empowered with more freedom and decision making in their lives. The stages of adolescence can be viewed in three stages: early adolescence, between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls; 11 to 15 for boys. The second stage, middle adolescence, occurs between the ages of 13 to 16 for girls; 14 to 17 for boys; and the third stage, late adolescence, between the ages of 16 and up for girls, and 17 and up for boys (Brown, Jane D., Steele, Jeanne R., and Walsh-Childers, Kim, 2002, p. 2). These stages of adolescence trigger adolescent milestones in learning and an awareness of the world around the child, their environment, and how people interact with one another on social levels that form the basis of relating to one another from gender perspectives.

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It is the "middle" adolescent who is experiencing the greatest number of changes in their lives, say social researchers Jane Brown, Jeanne R. Steele, and Kim Walsh-Childers (2002). At this age, the group says, adolescents are focused on their independence, and the ways in which they can express that independence, make choices for them selves, and assert the authority that their age empowers them with (Brown, Steele, and Walsh-Childers, p. 2). They're forming relationships, close relationships with people with whom they relate to, peer groups. This is an important time in their lives, because they are at their most bold, and, at the same time, their most vulnerable as they begin to explore their sexuality.

This essay looks at the period of adolescence, late adolescence, when the adolescence's sexuality is emerging, and being noticed by adolescents and noticed by others, too.

Late Adolescence and Girls

Thesis on Adolescent Sexuality Assignment

It is an especially difficult time for young girls, because they're struggling with their peers and contemporary mindsets that dictate how they conduct themselves and whom and they should be interested in. Brown, Steele, and Walsh-Childers say it is an especially difficult for late adolescent girls, who might feel conflicted about the choices they make for themselves (p. 3). Their sexual choices are influenced by a number of people in their lives, including parents, peer groups, boyfriends, and even those messages that target them in the advertising media (Rouner, Donna, Slater, Michael D.,Domenech-Rodriguez, Melanie, 2003, p. 435). Looking around at the media advertising and programming aimed at young adolescents, there is every reason to be concerned with the manipulation of the media, advertisers, and performers who target late adolescent girls' sexuality. Young pop icons performing in exaggerated sexually suggestive videos, clothes that are sexually revealing and match exaggerated movements of sexually suggested behavior, beauty products, fashion, and the way in which adolescents are depicted in their relationships with one another are designed to encourage expressions and decisions concerning adolescent sexuality (Rounder, Slater and Domenech-Rodriguez, p. 435). Social researchers Donna Rouner, Michal D. Slater, and Melanie Domenech-Rodriguez say this about advertising targeting adolescents:

Ads routinely depict females, and more recently males (Reichert et al., 1999), as sexual objects where nudity or lurid angles and scans of body parts are frequently employed (Archer, Iritani, Kimes, & Barrios, 1983; Bem, 1993; Courtney & Whipple, 1983; Hall & Crum, 1994; Kilbourne & Lazarus, 1987; Kilbourne & Wunderlich, 1979; Sullivan & O'Connor, 1988). Implicit sexual ads, such as body shots used to sell undergarments, cologne, clothing, cars, and power tools, are also common on television (Cohen, 1981; Kilbourne & Wunderlich, 1979) (Rouner, Slater, and Domenech-Rodriguez, p. 435)."

The ads do not just portray an appearance that adolescents strive to copy, they present a "universe," or space around a social "clique," whose members lead exceptional and extraordinary lives all connected to their youth, good health, and beauty (Rouner, Slater, and Domenech-Rodriguez, p. 435). Being targeted in a way in which adolescent girls are depicted as "winners," for having certain physical attributes associated with social and financial rewards, serve as strong incentives for adolescents to make decisions for themselves that are not necessarily decisions about their own individuality, but are choices they make about advertising and marketing choices made for them by corporations focused on financial profits.

For young adolescent girls, being targeted with these false measurements of self-esteem, self-value, and social significance can lead to a variety of responses in the way that they make choices for themselves. When their world is portrayed by advertisers in a strictly sexual way, it becomes through those sexual tones that they learn to relate to the world around them, and to express themselves (Rouner, Slater, and Domenech-Rodriguez, p. 435). The result, Rouner, Slater, and Domenech-Rodriguez say, can be disastrous, because it can result in an over-sensuality in their expressions, even a sexual aggression, to which their peers, influenced by different backgrounds, might ostracize them for their aggressive and overtly sexuality (p. 435).

On the other side of the spectrum are those girls who might become inhibited by their inability to relate to the role models by whom they are influenced in the various media directed to them. Talk about advertising methods that target the young adolescent girl for products that cause the young girls to believe that the product will resolve their lack of sex appeal, or their sense of awkwardness, or lack of beauty. When that product does not bring about changes in the young adolescent girl's perception of self, the response can be painful, even causing the young girl to act out in extreme ways. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that has become more common amongst late adolescent girls. Brown, Steele, and Walsh-Childers say that anorexia nervosa affects 1% of young adolescent girls between the ages of 16 to 18 (Brown, Steele, and Walsh-Childers, p. 5). Bulimia, an eating disorder that like anorexia nervosa has become increasingly common in young adolescent girls, affects 15% of the girls in the same 16 to 18-year-old category (p. 5). These eating disorders are directly linked to the ways in which these young girls perceive themselves, believe themselves to be sexually attractive or competitive with their peer group.

A majority of American teenagers date; 85% say they have had a boyfriend or girlfriend and have kissed someone romantically. By the age of 14, more than half of all boys have touched a girl's breasts, and a quarter have touched a girl's vulva. One fourth to one half of young people report experience with fellatio and cunnilingus (Newcomer & Udry, 1985; Roper Starch Worldwide, 1994) (Brown, Steele, and Walsh-Childers, p. 5)."

While the above is about both girls and boys, consider just the implications the statement holds for young late adolescent girls. Eight-five percent of teens say that they have a boyfriend or girlfriend; this would be the range from 13 to 19. When young girls begin engaging in physical sexual exploration at an early age, like 13, the obvious conclusion is that by the time the young girl outgrows late adolescence, she could have had multiple sexual partners. This is not healthy, because early sexual exploration puts young girls at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) (Rouner, Slater, and Domenech-Rodriguez, p. 435).

The range of sexually transmitted disease go from the treatable conditions like syphilis and gonorrhea to the incurable like herpes simplex, Chlamydia, human papilloma virus, and, the worst case scenario, HIV / AIDS and a prolonged and painful road to death. These are each conditions that have in recent years been found to have their origins in middle to late adolescent sexual behaviors (Rouner, Slater, and Domenech-Rodriguez, p. 435). For young girls there is also the life altering condition of early pregnancy and parenthood, which they must often times face without the benefit of a husband or the father of the child (Rouner, Slater, and Domenech-Rodriguez, p. 435).

Rouner, Slater and Domenech-Rodriguez have found that the advertising media that targets young adolescents and follow them into young adulthood are largely responsible for encouraging behavior in adolescents that puts them at risk for irresponsible social and sexual behaviors (p. 435). It also creates distinct and unrealistic lines between the genders associated with social behavior, responsibility, and the roles of young men girls in society (p. 435). For girls, that role is a sexual one, and it is linked to their value as human beings (p. 435). These role assignments can be the force that drives a wedge between a young girl, her identity as an individual, her sexuality, her ability to express her sexuality in a mature way, and even her ability to understand or recognize the emergence of her strengths and value beyond that of being a sexual object.

Adolescent Boys and Sexuality

Social researcher Lisa Smylie, Sheri Medaglia, and Eleanor Maticka-Tyndale (2006) cite many of the issues that have been addressed as risks for young adolescent girls, as equally challenging for boys, or adolescents in general (p. 95). The risks involving life altering adolescent sexual promiscuity[END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Adolescent Sexuality" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Adolescent Sexuality.  (2008, August 9).  Retrieved February 27, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Adolescent Sexuality."  9 August 2008.  Web.  27 February 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Adolescent Sexuality."  August 9, 2008.  Accessed February 27, 2020.