Standing Out or Fitting In: Which is your teen doing?
Welcome back to my blog series, “Teens Tell All: Top 20 Reasons Why Teens DO and DON’T Have Sex”
As I mentioned in my introduction video, I have grouped all of the reasons that high school girls have sex into five different categories. I wrote about the first category in April, which was self-medicating due to rape/molestation.
My last post, where I addressed why middle school girls are planning to have sex, is closely related to the second category for high school girls, which is social acceptance.
Below are a couple of reasons why high school girls say they have sex:
- I felt left out because I was the last one of my friends still a virgin.
“My best friend since freshman year lost her virginity two months before I did. I never thought she would do that since we were known as two of the few virgins in school. Hearing her talk about her experiences made me feel left out.”
- Everyone else was doing it.
“Before you came here to talk to us, I didn’t know that much about sex and just wanted to do it because everybody else was doing it.”
What I tell students and what you can share with your teen:
Everyone is NOT doing it!
The latest national study revealed that among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2011, 47.4% had ever had sexual intercourse. Though that percentage is still too high, there are actually more teens NOT having sex than there are having sex. But teens do not know this and make dangerous decisions based on inaccurate assumptions!
Teens do not realize that some of their friends who say they are having sex are lying about it.
Average is overrated!
When teens make decisions to be like everyone else they are basically saying they want to be average. No one remembers anyone who is average. The people who get remembered are the ones who stand out, not the ones who blend in.
Positive Peer Pressure is Powerful!
Peer pressure does not have to be negative. It just depends on who their peers are. If teens have friends making positive decisions, it is not such a bad thing for those friends to pressure them to make the same kind of decisions. That’s why it is important for teens to be selective with their friends and only choose friends who are making positive decisions.
I made that statement in a high school class one day and a young man in the class who was a senior said:
“That is so true because I’m a virgin and my three best friends are virgins. I’m not convinced that if my three best friends were having sex, that I wouldn’t be having sex as well. Not because they would try to talk me into it, but I’d probably put pressure on myself to do it because I wouldn’t want to be left out of the conversation when they talk about what they are doing with their girlfriends.”
That is how peer pressure most often plays out. It is not that their friends are saying, “Come on! Do it! Do it!” and they are too weak to say “No.” The most common way peer pressure affects teenagers today is internal pressure teenagers put on themself to fit in by wanting to share in the same experiences as their friends.
In the words of a high school young lady:
“I am a virgin and I can relate to the pressure that I can put on myself
because I want to add on to the conversation.”
What can parents do?
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1. Make sure your teens know the facts about the % of teens having sex.
2. Encourage your teens to choose friends who are making positive decisions.
3. Help your teens understand that it is better to be a leader who “stands out” than an average person who “fits in.”
Have you noticed any differences in the need for teens to “fit in” today versus when you were a teen? If so, what are they?