Baby Image Peer Pressure Sexuality and Risk Term Paper

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Baby Image, Peer Pressure, Sexuality and Risk Taking

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The Encyclopedia of Children's Health defines adolescence, which is also referred to as the teenage years, youth or puberty, is the period of transition between childhood and adulthood. Adolescence starts between the ages of 10 and 22 and also varying in duration from individual to individual. It last for approximately 18 months to 6 years in girls while taking two to five years in boys. The most observable sign that puberty has began is the physical changes which are triggered by hormones. An adolescent growth spurt as the result of a rise in growth hormones brings about an increase in height and weight which is the first half of puberty. There are several issues that arise during the adolescents' growth and development which make it a difficult period to go through (Encyclopedia of Children's Health, 2010). The other types of changes that take place during adolescence are cognitive transition. During cognitive transition, an adolescent begin to think about what is possible and stop limiting their thoughts to what is real. They are able to think hypothetically and take into consideration their observations. They later start to think of abstract ideas; they can comprehend the abstract logic inherent in puns, proverbs, metaphors and analogies. This also enables them to apply advanced reasoning and logical processes. Adolescents also begin to think about thinking itself. They may therefore display increased introspection and self-consciousness. They may also develop a form of egocentrism and become self absorbed resulting in them believing that everyone is constantly watching and evaluating everything they do. Their thinking becomes multidimensional instead of limited to a single issue. They begin to see things as relative instead of the childhood view of things being absolute.

Body Image

TOPIC: Term Paper on Baby Image Peer Pressure Sexuality and Risk Taking Assignment

Body image is the term that refers to one's perception of their physical appearance with regards to how their body moves, looks and feels. This self-perception changes with moods, their physical experience and the environment. Cultural messages and societal standards also greatly influence body image. The overwhelming prevalence of thin and lean female models and celebrities and strong and lean male images in the western society media, there is a rise in body image issues among adolescents. Teenage boys and girls feel pressured to lose weight and fit into the media interpretation of what is beautiful. This brings about body dissatisfaction and body image concerns arise. Through socialization, males are encouraged to become stronger and more developed while females are to make their bodies more beautiful. More critical than the teenagers themselves in the way they view their bodies, parents are less positive in regards to their children's eating, physical activity and their appearance throughout adolescence in turn bringing about poor body image (Gutgesell, & Payne, 2004, p.75)..

The consequences of poor body image may vary but have similar outcomes. Poor body image and shape can lead to restrictive dieting and methods that are unhealthy in order to control their weight and prompt weight loss. The society promoting the thin ideal results in prejudicial treatment of individuals who are overweight or a rise in weight-based teasing. Poor body image may result in unhealthy methods of controlling their weight in both adolescent boys and girls. These methods involve vomiting, use of laxatives, dieting pills, cigarettes and diuretics to enable weight loss. Some view weight loss as having a close association with self-worth and see dieting as a way through which one can improve their self-worth. Another result of unhealthy dieting and using unhealthy means of controlling their weight is an increase in eating disorders. Poor self-image brings about low self-esteem and self-worth which limits an adolescent's potential for success. Eating disorders are seen to be a direct result of teasing related to weight and shape (Body Image and Adolescents).

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure and influence can be defined as pressure, either negative or positive, from one's peers to behave in a manner which is similar or acceptable to theirs. This means that Peer Pressure can be negative or positive. During the adolescent years, adolescents tend to look at their peers for feelings of acceptance, importance and unity. Autonomy is granted by the adolescent's peers and not their parents. During adolescent years, the adolescent tends to demand for more privacy and ends up spending less time with the family and more time with their peers who in turn influence their behaviors either in a healthy or unhealthy way. Peer selection and peer influence contribute to an adolescent's behavior. An adolescent may take up smoking in an attempt to appear sophisticated or as result of peer pressure. Peer influence goes further than substance abuse into unhealthy behavior like risk-taking actions like stealing, reckless driving or engaging in promiscuous sexual activities. This is the bad part of peer pressure and influence which is due to peers pressuring the adolescent into doing things they are uncomfortable with. Positive peer pressure or influence may come about as a result of adolescent making friends with whom they share extracurricular activities like dancing, school choir amongst others, which means that they have a goal that is common to them (Oliveri, 2007). When peer influence and pressure is seen to be taking a wrong turn, it is the parents' responsibility to come and take control of the situation instead of thinking that it will come to pass.

Adolescent sexuality

It refers to both the physical and psychological growths, within an individual of sexual awareness during puberty. Adolescent sexuality also refers to the sexual behaviors of individuals who are undergoing puberty. At adolescence, expressions of sexuality manifest themselves due to the brain being influenced by previously unapparent hormones. The influence of these hormones going around makes the adolescent confused with the strength of their sexual urges. At this stage in the adolescent's life, they attempt to get a sexual identity and it is important for parents to know how to guide them in the matters of sexuality (Schalet, 2004). The influence of the parents' knowledge in the matter will outweigh the myths about sex that the adolescent hears from their peers who are as clueless.

Adolescent sexuality is an important part of human development but it is also an avenue of confusion and wrong choices. Sexuality is also responsible for the emergence of sexual and romantic relationships. Dating in contemporary society amongst adolescents can vary from group activities without much contact between the sexes or in a group of boys and girls who go out jointly whereby couples spend time together and also as a group, and also going on casual dates as couples. There are also relationships between serious boyfriends and girlfriends. Sexual experiences amongst adolescents usually occur for the first time in the autoerotic behavior which is experienced alone (Schalet, 2004, p.44). This is in the form of masturbation and erotic fantasies and by the time the adolescent enters high school, they usually might have had experience in sexual behaviors in a relationship context. The other issues arising from sexuality is sexual experimentation which may include homosexuality, common from early to mid-adolescence. This, however, does not mean that all adolescents attracted to members of the same sex act upon their attraction, neither does it predict their future sexual orientation. Adolescents struggling with issues of sexual preference should be assured that they will gradually form their own identities, not necessarily making them homosexual or heterosexual.

Risk taking

Risk taking can be categorized as healthy and unhealthy risk taking behavior. Healthy risk taking can be defined as a positive tool in an adolescent's life which enables them discover, develop and consolidate their own identity (Ponton, 1997, p.73). Unhealthy risk taking behavior amongst adolescents involves behavior which puts the adolescent's life at risk. Risk taking can be accelerated in one area and not accelerated in others. An area where it may be accelerated includes, social, physical, intellectual, artistic or sexual. This behavior includes drug abuse, night time driving without taking the necessary precautions, alcohol abuse amongst them. An inability to think in the abstract influences the adolescent's concept of immortality which in turn plays a part in the risk taking behavior. Unhealthy risk taking and recklessness is an attempt on the adolescent's part to attain independence and self-identity. There arises a need to assess an adolescent's behavior by parents when it comes to risk taking so as they can work out throughout their lives. They require their parents help in doing this.

Ponton (1997) gives the following examples of healthy risk taking behavior that include; physical activities like team sports, learning or practicing a creative art form like painting or photography, learning to talk about sex and relationships and working on open communication with both their parents and partners, seeking new friends, volunteering in the community, participating in student exchange programs, part time jobs like baby-sitting or going camping or being an after-school counselor or a retail clerk in a store. Unhealthy risk taking behavior involves having unprotected sexual activity, shoplifting and stealing, engaging in gang activity and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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