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Part 2 - “Dirty” Little Secrets: The Truth About Teens and Sex:

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Growing up is what every child wants for himself/herself and what every parent wants for his/her child. But, what every parent fears and dreads, is having his/her child grow up to fast. While YOU may believe the “choice” is YOURS, experts suggest the contrary. Though you ARE your child’s primary influence, it’s often not what YOU expose your child to but what he/she is exposed to through society and the ever so prevalent and popular media. So, unless you plan on (effectively) banning your child from school, social interaction, extracurricular activities, reading, and/or watching television and listening to the radio, you will have little control over the information, content and messages they receive (and are apt to be “confused” by and “misinterpret”). Professionals point out that the statistics for young teens are staggering as they have become the primary target for “risky” business(es) frequently leading to dangerous and inappropriate behaviors.

According to authorities what you don’t know may not only hurt you but your children….and they note the following disturbing facts:

· Teens, pre-teens and even young children are the principal victims of sexually explicit marketing that is proven to adversely affect their self-esteem and behavior.

o In 2003, an estimated 83% of the episodes featured in the 20 most popular shows among teens, contained some sexual content, including 20% with sexual intercourse

o In 1999, over 40% of the songs featured on that year’s most popular CDs featured sexual content and nearly 20% contained explicit sexual lyrics.

o Most music videos depict an average of 93 sexual situations per hour, including eleven "hard core" scenes of behaviors such as intercourse and oral sex.

o Girls who were exposed to more than 14 hours of wrap music and videos were more likely to engage in illicit sexual activity including multiple partners and were also more likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.

o Prior to public outrage, certain clothing manufacturers and retailers were marketing sexually provocative and explicit underwear to young girls under the age of 10.

o Television ratings estimate that nearly 14 million teens between the ages of 12 and 17 viewed the 2004 Super Bowl and saw the Janet Jackson “expose”.

The Internet has recently joined television and radio as one of the top three biggest culprits in exposing children to adult content. While there is nothing (inherently) wrong with adolescents seeking (sexual) information via the net, this medium seems to be a breeding ground for those seeking to take advantage of teens and their naiveté. Predators and teens alike find comfort in the anonymity of the Internet, and both rely on it for easy sexual accessibility. Furthermore, teens are often targeted directly through porn Spam sent directly to their email or by accidentally clicking on a porn link. Pornography, according to experts can be not only visually stimulating but addictive and frequently associated with a distorted view of an otherwise normal and healthy (adult) behavior. In fact, they note, that it may entice adolescents to sexually deviant behaviors including rape, sexual abuse and sexual violence. At very least, authorities assert that pornography and a noxious sexual perception can debilitate a teen’s ability to have a healthy, loving, sexual relationship in his/her adult life by diminishing the ability to trust and love.

Some popular adolescent sexual misconceptions include:

· Sex is equivalent with love and self affirmation (teen girls)

· Sex has nothing to do with love or commitment and is merely a normal part of casual attraction and unions, and has no negative implications or ramifications. (teen boys)

· Having sex is a normal and expected part of teen life and growing up. ALL teens engage in premarital intercourse.

· Having sex is a rite of passage into adulthood.

· Sexually inactive (older) teens (between the ages of 17-19) are “problematic” and social “misfits”.

· Pregnancy is not possible during menstruation.

· A girl can’t get pregnant if it’s her first time

· You remain a virgin until you engage in sexual intercourse. Oral sex is NOT sex and does not count.

Next: Part 3 - Gen-Sex

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