The Problem of Sexuality in Our Modern Youth
I've been seeing a lot of publicized media in recent months about teen sexuality, especially teen sexuality in public places or that these teens are posting about on social media.
The fact that this is happening at such young ages is bad enough, but the icing on the cake these days is the desire of many in the general public to try to attribute all this to the modern "pornography culture" that they are claiming to be sweeping the current generation. This idea sickens me.
As a culture, are we so set on having our blinders on that we ignore everything that has come before, just to soothe our own sense of moral superiority?
I remember, when I was growing up in the '80's, we were already living in a highly sexualized society. At the age of 12, most of my friends were constantly talking about having sex and who with and what they did. They'd talk about who their next "conquest" was going to be. Movies like Cruel Intentions only fueled this, I believe. Now, I know what you're thinking. The moral of that film was actually quite the opposite, and you are correct. But most people I knew didn't pay any attention to how it ended, they just idolized the main character, believing that his sexual exploits were the epitome of the way they should live their lives.
And things have only gotten worse since then. I'm sure that I am not the only parent in the country who has had their 9-year-old child come home from elementary school with stories about someone telling them that they wanted to have sex with them. Naturally, my wife and I addressed the matter with the school and the boy's parents, but I still can't help thinking about the unspoken truth of that whole affair: If my daughter came home with a story like that, how many others have had a similar experience and just not said anything? It's a terrifying thought.
The larger issue to my mind, however (and I'm sure I'm not alone) lies in the fact that so many people are so willing to play the pornography card. Just today on Facebook there was an article posted by the anti-porn group Fight the New Drug about a 15-year-old girl who had sex with no less than 25 boys (largely from the football team, so the article states) in the school restroom after school and posted a video of the event on Snapchat.
Yes, that was my response as well. But what's worse is that this group's response to this event was as ignorant as anything I've ever seen. Simply, "If this isn't a direct result of porn culture, we don't know what is."
(original article www.fightthenewdrug.org/15-year-old-girl-snapchatted-with-25-boys-in-florida-school-bathroom/)
Are they serious? You bet they are. As baffling as that attitude is.
I'm guessing that they are blissfully ignorant of the fact that sexualization in our culture has been on the rise for decades. It began long before I was born, and is still getting worse. In truth, if these groups want to look for a blame for that sexualization, they should stop looking at porn and start looking more at the media and popular fiction. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against sex in fiction. It's a good way for many (especially the sexually repressed) to live out fantasies in a safe, non-damaging way. But the simple fact is that most of our sensationalized stories in the media contain high sex appeal. Because, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, sex sells. Anyone with eyes can see this in the media, but young people most of all, with how focused they tend to be on what's in the media. And yes, there are other atrocities in the media that should be addressed, but that is beyond the scope of this article.
The main point here, is that the rise of sexualization in our culture, especially our youth, has been going on since long before the popular rise of pornography, especially among young people. It's really only in the last 15 years or so that porn has become widely available to those not of legal age, but sex among young people has been happening for a whole lot longer than that. It has just become so widespread, so known, so common now, that all those people who have had their blinders on all this time have simply lost their ability to turn a blind eye to it.
And while we're pointing fingers, yes, parents do have a role in all this. There's no arguing that. Parents are not completely at fault, but then, no one place can take all the blame. But focusing on parenting for a moment, WHY IN THE HELL does a 12 or 13 year old need their own smartphone with unrestricted Internet access? I've been asking this question for years and no one has ever been able to give a satisfactory answer. Yet we continue to do it, and then wonder why all these tweens and teens are using those phones to find adult images and videos, or for sexting each other or posting their sexual exploits on social media.
Am I the only parent in the world who sees a trending problem here?
However, to be fair, not even the most cautious parent can control what their child is influenced by 100% of the time. As I see it, as parents, we only have so much control. Children must make their own choices. And the more you try to control them, the more they are going to lie to you and just do things behind your back. I saw this plain as day when I was growing up. Our parents let us do basically whatever we wanted, so long as they knew what that was and where it was happening. While my cousins, by contrast, were forbidden to do so many things, so they snuck out their bedroom windows at night and did it anyway, with their parents having no idea where they were. Makes sense, right? I never thought so. I point, I think, is choice. Children are living, breathing, thinking beings. They will not do as you say simply because you say so. Our job as parents, I believe, is nothing more or less than to make sure the right choice is one of the options presented to our children, educate them to make good decisions, and allow them to make those choices.
And allow them to learn from their own mistakes as needed. We cannot prevent them from making the same mistakes we did. Parenting doesn't work that way.
Another large factor that needs to be considered here, though, is the question of illegality. As in the article I referenced earlier, there are many cases of these teens posting images and videos of their sexual exploits on social media. Are these kids completely ignorant of the fact that whether they think of it that way or not, that act constitutes child pornography? And the courts are not messing around with that anymore. It's a harsh business these days. And if they think that just because they are teens they will get off with a slap on the wrist they are going to end up having a very rude awakening some day. Believe me, there have already been cases of young teens who have faced prison time for privately sexting a friend or significant other. With posting to social media, it could be much worse.
And before anyone tries to argue the point, yes, even if it is of yourself, those images are still considered child pornography. And at this point, child pornography is one of the most aggressively pursued sex crimes in this country right now. Has been for a while.
So my message to the teens of this country is the same one that I give to my daughter every single day: you need to think about the consequences of your actions before you do things. You need to think about it from the adult perspective before you make a potentially life altering (or life destroying) decision. I would really hate to see a young teen's life destroyed over a stupid decision made in the midst of youth, especially one made in the heat of an erotic moment that should have been kept between yourself and your lover. Even worse if you are of an age that an erotic moment shouldn't be happening at all.