Sex, for many students, is the forbidden fruit of adulthood. The popular stereotype portrays premature sex as the result of teenage irrationality, but is it really that simple? Is teen sex really that deplorable?
True it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 in California to engage in sexual activities. However, ignoring all legality and common prejudices, sex, whether teenage or adult, is an inevitable part of every individual’s development.
Teenage sex is not rare in the United States. According to a 2006 study by the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 46 percent of teens ages 15-19 had sex at least once.
Having sex is a decision to be made only when the associated risks are understood. Many schools preach abstinence because of the high risk of contracting an STD or pregnancy. The Guttmacher Institute reported that 48 percent of all STDs each year are attributed to 15-24 years old who engage in sexual activities.
However, the decision to have sex is greatly affected by many outside factors. According to a recent study by Kaiser Family Foundation, it was noted that 33 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls ages 15-17 are pressured into having sex before they were ready by their peers. Peer pressure is unavoidable and in many instances plays as significant a role as a family or church. Peer pressure has been listed by many students as one of the primary causes of teenage sex. Close behind is the effect of what teens view, listen to and enjoy.
According to a study done by The Center for Media and Public Affairs, sexual content is featured once every four minutes on basic cable TV. Also, 98 percent of all of this sexual content appears to us, the viewer, to have no physical consequences. 85 percent appears to have no lasting emotional impact and nearly 75 percent of all participants appear to be ages 18-24.
“Too often, Hollywood is a hindrance. It develops stereotypes that tell us how to have unhealthy relationships,” health teacher Vickie Christiansen said. “Unfortunately, they haven’t yet come up with something where I can say ‘now there’s some good, loving communication.”
In the present community, it seems that sex, which has previously been exclusively the result of intimate relationships, has become much more convoluted. Formerly only an expression of affection, sex seems to have devolved into a mere article of entertainment, prestige and even necessity.
“I think that people take it way too seriously,” senior Julia De Alcuaz said. “People think they need to have sex because they’re doing it on ‘Ugly Betty,’ when all the producers want is to sell the show.”
Teens are entitled to their decisions, but that does not mean romance films and the Internet should bury this fundamental fact that “making love” is still about love. Teens exist in a world where their peers and the media push for sex, while their parents and the establishment tell them they shouldn’t. More than anything, the life of teens is punctuated by uncertainty.
Planning and thought may be the most important part of teen sex. The teen relationship should not be discounted based upon the age of those in it. Love is one human emotion that is not dependent on age. Teens opportunity to explore all facets of that love if they are educated and in love.