Research Proposal

The budding of a child from the innocence of childhood to the maturity of an adult can be a complicated phase for many. An important factor that plays a very significant role throughout a persons life is their sexual behavior. After the mass commercialization of every product imaginable and available to consumers through print advertisements or TV advertisements, the idea of sex is being marketed to these young children almost on a daily basis. This influence is not only limited to print or TV but the internet has also started playing an important role in being a medium which provides access to teenagers and young adults to explicit content. Responsible adults of the society and the Government should make sure that those affected by sexual harassment are given proper rehabilitation facilities (Gilgun, n.d) and that perpetrators who have committed such heinous crimes are punished.

Statement of problem
Many young adults become sex offenders as they grow up and some fall victim to prey like sex addiction. Also, due to exposure to explicit content on porn sites and other inappropriate material on the web these juveniles fall prey to blackmailers, sex offenders, rapists and manipulators. In girls, this could lead to unwanted pregnancy.

Purpose of the study
The purpose of undertaking this study is to predict sexual behavior in teenagers due to the kind of exposure they get from experiencing peer pressure about sex at school to movies and internet that are all filled with subtle messages about sex and how wonderful it is when the consequences of their actions are not even fully clear to the teenagers undertaking this activity and how it impacts their life ahead and also to explore what rehabilitation and recovery facilities may be provided to teenagers who have being harassed.

The relationship between the exposure to sex related content and sexual habits of teenagers is positive and correlated.

Methods and Procedures
The method used in this study was to conduct some literature review on the topic and also gather responses through teenagers and young adults through a small survey. The questions posed to them constituted of topics ranging from the influence of the media to any personal experiences they might have encountered. Also, peer pressure was an important factor included to see the effects of how many teenagers engage in sex to fit in or submit to their peers demands.

Variables used
The variables used in this questionnaire were teenagers and young adults who answered the questionnaires on the topic of how they think sexually explicit content or subtle hints at selling sex to youngsters through advertisements, movies, TV shows and even billboards.

Some impromptu personal interviews were also taken to see if people are biased in their opinion when communicating spontaneously vs. if they are given more time to choose and think their options.

Limitations and delimitations
The limitation in this study comes out in the form of bias. The respondents in order to not let the interviewer or survey taker make judgments about them or relate the responses to their experiences subconsciously may give well thought out or morally fair answers rather than what they actually believe or think. Also since the scope of the study is limited to predicting sexual behavior in teenagers, factors such as puberty, violence, infatuation and internet play a stronger role in eliciting responses and decisions rather than rationality.

Significance of the study
The significance of this study is that it will help point out the factors which can help us understand teenage psychology and behaviors better in order make policies or take collective community action to protect our children and rehabilitate and bring back to life those who have suffered.

This research paper aims to look at the sexual behavior in teenagers and how these sexual behaviors are encouraged in teenagers through media, internet and pop culture. Teenagers often neglect practices of safe sex. They indulge in drug abuse and alcohol and those who are routinely exposed to sexually explicit content have a higher tendency to initiate sexual behaviors. Also, those teenagers who have been subject to sexual harassment or assault at an early age can replicate the actions to take revenge from society and breed crime. The impact of selling sex through commercialization and disregard for moral and ethical values also contributes to over active sexual drive in teenagers. Lastly, the matter of female pregnancy especially the alarming rate at which it is rising in US as compared to other developed countries and the highest rate in black teenagers is a matter of concern for the society and health sector at large.

Predictions about Teen Sexual Behavior
When children grow up to step into the adult phase of their lives they are faced with perhaps the most difficult situations in their lives. They are presented with new ideas, new peers, social and peer pressure and their introduction to puberty. A lot of teenagers face the emotions of infatuation, obsession, becoming cool and doing something that would establish their reputation in front of their friends. In this age of media and mass commercialization, teenagers are exposed to sex in all forms available. It is seen in movies, TV channels, TV shows, internet, music industry and even cartoons like Simpsons where sexual references are not uncommon.

It is surprising to see that while 58 of girls studying in 8th to 11th grade have faced some sort of sexual harassment occasionally or in some cases almost daily boys are also being subject to sexual harassment (Carney, 2007). The reason for such outcomes or trend seen in recent years can be the extreme exposure to sex in our culture especially to kids at an inappropriate age. This incompatibility can confuse these children who are in the process of becoming mature and distort their perceptions of sexual behavior and hinder their normal and healthy development process. Exposure to explicit content can be in the form of visual content such as is common on billboards, TV, cartoons and internet. It can also be of verbal content. A child whose parents curse and swear or use sexually explicit language and exhibit violent behavior towards each other or the society at large is subject to take the impact of such exposure and replicate such behavior when heshe grows up to be a teenager and later in their life.
Perhaps, the greatest impact is of personal experience in predicting the sexual behavior of teenagers and that is usually when a person has been subject to incest or any other form of sexual and physical harassment. Such an individual becomes bitter and rebellious towards the society and takes revenge by doing those very actions and deriving satisfaction from the pain inflicted on others as a compensation for their suffering.

A recent research has linked the race, age and weight of adolescents to their sexual behaviors in case of girls. Some interesting findings that came in spotlight included but are not restricted to the fact that over weight and sexually active girls and underweight girls do not practice safe sex. Latino girls were most likely to engage in risky sexual behavior including having greater than four partners, not practicing safe sex and rampant use of alcohol (Nauert, 2009)

This finding indicates that as opposed to generalizing all teenagers exhibiting rogue sexual appetites sexual behavior in teenagers can greatly differ based on their geographical location, their environment, age and even gender. Important findings that help predict teenage sexual behavior include that, teenagers who watch sexually explicit content more often than their counterparts are likely to engage and initiate sexual intercourse earlier (Collins et al., 2004) (Also see Exhibit 1) Furthermore, the impact of verbal reference to sexual activities is the same as visual impact in teenagers leading them to become sexually active at an earlier stage in their adolescence. However, it is imperative to know that if teens are shown movies or educated about the practices of disadvantages of having sex earlier or without safe practices it can put a positive impact and create awareness among them and influence their sexual behavior.

Recently, the internet has proved to be yet another medium through which teenagers who are still in the phase of development and are excited by puberty and the various opportunities to socialize and go to parties, meet new partners and become equal to their peers is present, the access to sexually explicit content such as images, videos, pornography and the latest addition to the list social networking websites present a great danger of eliciting harmful sexual behavior. In a recent study it was found that those teenagers who use the internet and social networking websites were subject to online sexual harassment such as unwanted requests to converse about sex, provide personal information, sexual solicitation or requests to do something sexual. 33 reported online harassment including the highest percentage on instant messaging (43) and chat rooms (32). (Ybarra  Mitchell, 2008) Such consequences have made internet a bane in some cases instead of a boon with negative impacts on not only the mental health but physical development of a child as more and more people suffer from complex about their bodies and abilities due to sexual references and discrimination.

Sex at an early age for some can be damaging to moral and ethical values along with inflicting psychological problems. About 3 million teenagers contract a sexually transmitted disease such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and even AIDS. Most agree that teenagers tend to be reckless in their behavior, and unprotected sex is just one of a host of risky behaviors in which they engage. But even for those who are always careful, accidents can happen and contraceptives can fail. Moreover, some teenagers are exploited or coerced into having sex and thus have little control over contraception (cited in Besharov  Gardiner, n.d)

As exhibit 2 portrays that those engage in sex and risky behavior include marijuana, drugs and alcohol that further adds to the problem of active sex drive in teenagers.

Feral children like Genie who have had no contact with the outside world for 13 years of their life and confined to a solitary room where no auditory signals or visual signals could reach rendered this child completely different from normal teenagers. Genie could not stand erect and unable to even communicate effectively with words. She was fed baby food, cereals and eggs to keep her alive. (Curtiss, 1977) This kind of treatment rendered her completely isolated from other human beings where she was unable to communicate or understand normal human emotions or any sort of sexual desires or tendencies. Another important factor which has influenced sexual behavior in teenagers is music. According to a research article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, April 2009, Brian Primack made the statement that in a sample of adolescents listening to lyrics of a song that feature sexually explicit lyrics the tendency to engage in pre-coital activities and sexual intercourse was higher. This finding is a cause of concern and demands educational intervention because such activities by female teenagers which result in teenage pregnancies are a matter of public health concern. The findings of this research clearly indicate that sexual messages in media may be risky and dangerous for early teenage activities (cited in Nyholm, 2009) such as involvement in sex and related risky behavior as described in exhibit 2.

Communication gap with parents can lead to increased risky behavior in adolescents. Teenagers who can openly communicate with their parents about sex and parents who expose their teens to sexual information at an appropriate age and maturity level can decrease the risk of their teenage children being exposed to reckless sexual behavior.

Peer pressure in teenagers is also an important reason for engaging in sexual intercourse at an early age. Those teenagers who are popular in school or boast about their sexual triumphs create a desire in other children to be like them and experience sex even if their minds and bodies are not yet ready for experience. Discussion of explicit content among both genders increases the tendency to engage in sexual activities which may have dire consequences such as rape, manipulation and abuse of drugs and alcohol not to mention the risks of teenage pregnancy in case of neglecting safe sex practices.

Across adolescence, teenagers begin to look up to their peers and friends for support rather than their family and spend considerable amount of time with opposite-sex peers and the time spent with family decreases substantially. Teenagers begin to use each other for entertainment and intimacy and this marks an individuals shift to attachment with peers versus attachment with family members (Florsheim, 2003) This clarifies that the more a person spends time with the opposite sex the urge to communicate intimacy and sexually increases in a person and often culminates at an improper age in early teenage where teenagers do not fully experience the pleasure of engaging in sexual activities and take part in sexual acts merely for fun or to increase their reputation in front of their peers. Only in USA, teenagers have to pay heavy costs of healthcare that is why most teenagers whether male or female avoid going to the doctor and taking medical help because of the costs associated with healthcare (Table 1)

Sexuality occupies a special place in the lives of most people living in Westernsociety. Individuals are curious about the topic, and will at times exert unusualeffort to find answers to their questions. The trends in sexual behavior differ according to not only age and gender but also race (Table 2) as black and Hispanic teenagers are assumed to be more reckless in their sexual behavior and use drugs and alcohol as well. Anyone familiar with the tattered, soilededges of references to sex in the card catalogs of university libraries can gaugefairly accurately the popularity of such information. Sex sells--witness the relatively recent surge in the number of articles and reports on sexual behavior inperiodicals and newspapers (Byrne  Fisher, 1983).

Lastly, the problem of teenage pregnancy among females is of considerable importance since three quarters of a million females between the ages of 15-19 become pregnant each year. Out of all these pregnancies 82 are unplanned. Black female teenagers have the highest teen pregnancy rate and 29 terminate their pregnancies through abortion. The teenage pregnancy rates are twice as high in other developed countries (Lowen, n.d). This alarming rate has now become a matter of public health concern since taxpayer dollars are used to pay for the increase population in terms of benefits and other services such as social care and adoption. Teenage females who become pregnant have to face pressure and in some cases harassment from society and even friends and family and such teens face isolation and become victims of depression. Female teenagers may be forced to drop out of school due to external pressures and choose dangerous methods such as abortion instead of adoption and seeking help from social service. Female teenagers who become mothers of children out of wedlock face enormous difficulties if they decide to raise the child alone due to societal pressures to raise the child as a single parent. Such mothers and children become victim of poverty as they may have to drop out of school.

The Add Health survey shows that teenagers who are sexually active are 21 of the time likely to drop out of high school before graduating as compared to those who abstain from sex at 8.6. It further shows that teenagers who abstained from engaging in sexual intercourse until they reached a majority age of 18 were twice as likely to graduate from college at 15.8 as compared to sexually active teenagers who had initiated sex before the age of 18 at a mere 7.4.

Teenage sexual behavior can be controlled through awareness and education. Abstinence is an important part of sex education in teaching teenagers and young adults about safe sex. 90 parents believe that abstinence education should be given to stop teenagers from engaging in sexual activities until they have finished at least high school and their minds have developed and matured. 84 parents think that sex should not be allowed until an individual is married because sexual activities are not only unethical and impact a persons psychology but it also exposes juvenile teenagers to the harms of sexually transmitted diseases. Such factors are not given a thought by teenagers who have an active sex drive and the consequences of engaging in sexual activities without the full knowledge of its consequences can be harmful. Social science data shows that teenagers who abstain from sex are less likely to be depressed and commit suicide, to have children out of unwanted pregnancies and live in poverty or welfare dependence from adults. Also, it is interesting to note that teenagers who abstain from sex have longer lasting relationships and marriages as adults (Rector  Johnson, 2005) Teenagers who abstain from sex are also subject to fare better in terms of academic performance as they will be subject to less emotional complications as compared to sexually active teenagers. Teenagers who are likely to abstain from sex also possess character traits such as perseverance, resistance to peer pressure and more respect for society norms and moral values. Possession of such character traits in abstinent teens highlights success factors for future life.

Thus, teenage sexual behavior is influenced and can be predicted by many ways including the communication gap, transition from being a child to adult and romantic relationships. The need to fit in with peers as well as internet and popular media have put a lot of influence and subtle indications towards sex in forms of not only TV shows but movies and cartoons have led to children being exposed to sexual behavior at a very tender, immature and early age which can complicate life for them in later years as they could be exploited, raped, manipulated and suffer from physical or psychological harm.


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