Risk Taking Sexuality of Adolescent Term Paper

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Risk-Taking Sexuality of Adolescents


A study conducted among 15-16-year-olds pupils in secondary schools in South Wales in 1993 showed that peer pressure led them to engage in sex, more strongly on males than females (Mellanby et al., 1993). It involved a representative sample consisting of 266 boys and 250 girls. Of this number, 37 or 14% of boys and 10 or 4% of girls came under peer pressure to have sex. About 34 or 13% of the boys and 56 or 22% of the girls surveyed were already in stable relationships and likely to be indulging in sex between themselves. Most of them preferred to obtain contraceptives from vending machines rather than the school nurse. This practice indicated that they wanted to be anonymous in obtaining contraceptives. Another study conducted at the London Borough of Brent reported that boys regarded safe sex as girls' responsibility. A third study, however, reflected the consensus that 240 or 90% of Welsh boys and 241 or 96% of girls believed that both sides were responsible for safe sex, contraception, and disease prevention. Most of them favored a stable relationship at 174 or 65% of boys and 183 or 73% of girls rather than casual sex at 172 or 183 and 203 or 81%, respectively. Almost all of them believed that unprotected sex could lead to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted or unintended pregnancies. Most of them also saw condoms as playing a vital part in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (Mellanby et al.).

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Sexual Promiscuity among Teen-agers

TOPIC: Term Paper on Risk Taking Sexuality of Adolescent Assignment

The American Academy of Pediatrics said that 36.9% of 14-year-olds have had sex or a proportion of one in three (Aspen, 2009). About 66.4% of 12th graders have had sex. Both parents and teenagers find difficulty discussing sexuality, more difficult when parents suspect that their child is sexually promiscuous. But avoiding the discussion can be as risky as the behavior itself. Sexual promiscuity can lead to serious health problems, injure self-esteem and compromise the adolescent's emotional health. Everyone must contend with the reality that teenagers often take on risk-taking behaviors, especially if they are in trouble. Troubled teenagers often resort to sex in dealing with frustrations in a similar way as they resort to drugs and alcohol as outlets. Sex then becomes some kind of sedative, which they use to escape emotional confusion or stress. But a teenager who uses sex for this purpose often experiences a reduced sense of value and self-respect. Sometimes, teenagers use sex as a weapon or defense. Through it, they show their parents that they are "free" or adult enough to do what they want to. This attitude can develop long-term problems with intimate relationships and damage physical health (Aspen).

HIV, AIDS and Cervical Cancer

These have been associated with promiscuous sexual behavior (Aspen, 2009). These should be enough to scare teen-agers out of promiscuity. The American Academy of Pediatrics also reported that sexual activity among adolescents in the United States had increased in the last three decades. About 3 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases are found every year among teenagers, leading to about 1 million pregnancies. Furthermore, HIV infection is the 6th leading of cause among 15-24-year-olds in the United States (Aspen).

The Sexual Lives of Teenagers

Sexual knowledge remains in the general control of culture (Ponton, 2001). It teems with conflict and is very prohibitive. It discourages masturbation, homosexuality and adolescent sex by condemning them as crimes, sin or sicknesses. Adults attempt to restrain teenagers in different ways. They pound on them the values of the virtues of virginity and making contraceptives difficult to obtain instead of openly and objectively discussing sexuality. The media presents American culture as sexually permissive. The truth is that it is rather more restrictive on sexuality than the Scandinavian and other European countries. American culture imposes strong sex taboos, poor communication about sexuality and sex, and restricts gender roles. Many parents leave their teenage children to their own discovery of sexuality and thus pass on highly conflicting and inconsistent messages. These conflicting messages and biases thwart true sex education. The strict teaching on abstinence blocks access to contraception and intelligent discussion of sex. The fact is that teenagers see sexuality differently from adults. Teenagers perceive sex as a difficulty that is also exciting and pleasurable (Ponton).

Media and Psychosocial Influences

The media does a lot in confusing and distorting the sexual culture in the United States (Ponton, 2001). Sex is presented to the public in divergent ways from restrictive, to permissive and violent. Teenagers experience sex in these divergent ways, as a result of the influence. Adolescence is a period of struggle and teenagers who are just forming their personalities fear that deviating from the norm may result in rejection and violence. At some point of their Adolescence, every teenager fears that he or she is sexually not adequate and feels rejected because of it. Biases and gender expectations affect all teenagers. The macho idolatry leads boys to strive to become men in a society that is patriarchal. They are driven to quickly acquire experience and expertise in sex. On the other hands, girls are subjected to contradictory expectations. They are expected to use their sexuality to gain power and control. At the same time, they face rejection and shame if they do so because they are perceived as cheap. This double standard of morality hounds them and heightens their fear instead of being helped understand and develop their sexual orientation. Many of them are frightened of their own true feelings and reaction to culture. Some use scapegoats to cope with the struggle. This struggle is even tolerated and encouraged by adults who continue to give little tolerance and understanding of teenagers' sexuality and sexual diversity (Ponton).

Impact of Risk-Taking

Statistics say that half of all American 16-year-olds are having sexual intercourse (Ponton, 2001). The incidence is lower than that in many other developed countries but dangerous sexual risk-taking is highest in the United States. Risk-taking includes unprotected sexual intercourse, which results in unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. As a matter of fact, risk-taking itself describes America. And risk-taking conduces to sexual risk-taking, especially in teenagers. The brunt of HIV-AIDS developed through the restrictive and confusing messages about sex and sexuality. More than a fourth of those afflicted with the horrible disease are teenagers. This irony has led America to reconsider its attitude about sexuality. In an interview, former U.S. Surgeon-General Joyce Elders remarked that HIV had done more to change attitudes towards sexuality and sex education than any other great effort in the previous decade. She emphasized that there was a need to know more about teenage activities everywhere, especially in their own homes. Teenagers need to talked with abut sexuality and adults need to listen and give answers (Ponton).

Parents, Parenting Styles and Sexual Risk-Taking among Adolescents

A recent study established a link between parental influence and other factors and adolescent sexual risk-taking behaviors (Howell, 2001). It also provided evidence on the complexity of parenting processes and that these parenting processes can reduce sexual risk-taking behaviors. The study surveyed 286 9th-12th grade males and females in two schools in Virginia counties. The study used ht Virginia Adolescent Resiliency Assessment as main tool in the investigation (Howell).

Parents' Role

The summary of the findings of all surveys conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation stated that over half of all high school students at 56% are having sexual intercourse (Feingold, 2006). Of this number, only 58% use condoms and over half at 56% expressed concern over getting infected with HIV. Parents can do a lot towards addressing this risk with their teenage children through communication on safer sexual practices. Findings from many other researchers offer tips to parents on how to handle this problem. Teenagers who experienced much warmth and closeness to with their mothers, who also disapproved of sexual intercourse, delayed their sexual initiation. Teenagers who shared their parents' views on sexual delay and condom use also communicated with their parents on sexual matters. These matters include puberty, menstruation, reproduction, birth control and HIV. Frequent and open parental communication can moderate the impact of sexual risk behavior and condom use in teenagers (Feingold).

Parents who provide greater freedom to their teenage children to express themselves about their ideas and feelings will allow parents to correct misconceptions on HIV transmission and thus reduce potentially risky sexual behaviors in the children (Feingold, 2006). Teens who have a satisfying relationship with their mothers who disapprove of sexual intercourse are also more likely to reduce their risky sexual behavior and delay sexual intercourse. And teenagers who believe or accept their mothers' disapproval of birth control are twice as likely to shun sex as those whose mothers approve of birth control. Parents who discuss sex with their teenage children must also discuss the social, emotional, family and moral consequences of premarital or early sexual intercourse. A healthy relationship with one's mother discourages early intercourse (Feingold).

Dating Negotiations and Influences

Researchers also found… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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