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Sexuality in Adolescence, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 746

Essay

Are Teenagers Completely Hormone-Driven?

The statement “young people are slaves to hormonal changes” can be challenged on many levels.  While it is certainly true that teenagers are affected in a multitude of ways both physically and emotionally during and following puberty, the idea that they are completely out of control because of their hormonal fluctuations suggests that their behavior is constantly impulsive and out of control and that they lack the ability to behave in legally, morally, and socially acceptable ways.  If teenagers were universally controlled by their hormones, certainly there would be a constant stream of examples of “teenagers gone wild,” including sexual acting out that would most certainly lead to many teenage pregnancies, pervasive acts of crimes such as stealing and assaults, and extremes in moodiness that would result in many teens running away from home and violating curfew.  Instead, extremes in teenage behavior are the exception rather than the rule; that is not to say that adolescence and young adulthood are not extremely difficult stages to survive, both for the young person and their families, but typically, the changes in behavior and attitude of teenagers can be managed without drastic consequences.

Certainly, the area of sexual behavior is the most complicated aspect of the hormonal changes that affect young people.  Their bodies are changing physically and emotionally, and there is a strong physical urge to engage in various forms of intimacy.  Young people are generally very interested in connecting with someone with whom to form a romantic relationship although young men typically are more likely to pursue the physical side of such a relationship; young women are usually more motivated by the idea of being in love and having an emotional bond with a partner.  Besides sexual intercourse, however, there are many degrees of physical contact that a young couple can engage in that can provide physical relief and emotional satisfaction.  In addition, masturbation can satisfy the hormonal urges and present fewer complications for the developing teen.

Still, the nature and extent of forming such a close relationship during the teenage years when the hormones are on the rise depends in large part on the cultural environment in which they live, the teenagers’ religious upbringing as well as the taboos imposed by parents.  A legitimate theory of sex must also include wide cultural differences between teenagers, even within the developed western world, of attitude towards virginity, the appropriate a age to become sexually active and attitudes about homosexuality (Rosenthal.) Although teenagers may be tempted physically to become involved in sexual behavior, the external consequences of behaving sexually are often serious enough to be a disincentive to act on impulse.  If a teenager has been raised in, for example, a strict roman catholic household and has been taught all through the years that premarital sex is wrong, that teenager will be less likely to become sexually active at a young age.  The women’s movement of the 1960s and seventies promoted sexual fulfillment and freedom for women which certainly increase the amount of sex that was occurring at a younger age (Rosenthal. ) Unlike during the last decades of the 20th century, when sexual freedom was accepted and considered more normal, there has been a movement promoting abstinence during the last decade when a more conservative view of sexual activity has been promoted.

In addition, sex education provided in schools has been extremely useful in helping teens understand the emotional and physical changes that occur after puberty, and has emphasized the drawbacks of engaging in sex at an early age.  Besides unplanned pregnancies, there are sexually transmitted diseases that are not only embarrassing to experience as well as seeking treatment for them, but in the case of herpes, for example, the human papilloma or the HIV virus, the threat can be lifelong, or even fatal.

While teenagers may be impulse-ridden at times, they do not lack self control.  They may be tempted to engage in self-defeating behaviors but assuming that they are not using drugs or alcohol, have the capacity to stop and think of the consequences before acting on them.  To regard teenagers as “slaves to their hormones” implies that they are incapable of taking charge of their behavior and acting responsibly.  Although there is no question that teenagers are under enormous pressure to act out sexually, the fact that they do not uniformly become pregnant or contract STDs demonstrates their abilities to control their physical impulses.

Reference:

Rosenthal, Susan Moore And Doreen. Sexuality in Adolescence: Current Trends. London: Routledge, 2006

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