Sex Interests And Sex Behavior During Adolescence, and Risk




Young adolescents must acquire more mature and more complete concepts of sex than they had as children. The motivation to do so comes partly from social pressures but mainly from the adolescent's interest in and curiosity about sex.                                                    
Because of their growing interest in sex, adolescent boys and girls seek more  information about it. Few adolescents feel that they can learn all they want to know about sex from their parents. Consequently they take advantage of whatever sources of information are available to them- sex hygiene course, books on sex, or experimentation through masturbation, patting, or intercourse. By the end of adolescence, most boys and girls have enough information about sex to satisfy their curiosity.


                                                                                                             
Studies of what adolescents are primarily interested in knowing about sex have revealed that girls are especially curious about birth control, the "pill," abortion, and pregnancy, Boys, on the other hand, want to know about venereal diseases, enjoyment of sex, sexual intercourse, and birth control. The major interest is in sexual intercourse, its context and its consequences.




                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                   

Development of Heterosexuality

The first developmental task relating to sex adolescents must master is forming new and more mature relationships with members of the opposite sex. This is far from easy for both boys and girls, after the
years during late childhood when members of the two sexes had their own gangs and interests, and during puberty when both boys and girls developed attitudes of resentment against members of the
opposite sex. And to develop an interest not only in members of opposite sex but also in activities in which they are involved. This new interest, which begins to develop when sexual maturation is complete, is romantic in nature and is accompanied by a strong desire to win the approval of members of the opposite sex. Gradually, this desire takes the place of the desire that dominated in childhood-- the desire to win the approval and acceptance of members of the same sex. Development of interest in members of the opposite sex-heterosexuality-follows a predictable pattern . However, there are variations in ages at which the adolescent reaches different stages in this development, partly because of differences in age of sexual maturing and partly because of differences in opportunities to develop this interest. Interest in members of opposite sex is also markedly influenced by patterns of interest among the adolescent's friends.If they
are interested in activities involving members of both sexes, the adolescent must also be able to retain status in the peer group.

There are two separate and distinct elements in the development of heterosexuality. The first is the development of patterns of behavior involving members of two sexes and the second is the development of attitudes relating to relationships between members of two sexes.
In past generations, these two aspects of heterosexuality were rigidly prescribed by tradition and little leeway was given to adolescents to deviate from these prescribed patterns of behavior and attitudes. There was, for example, a socially approved pattern of behavior known as " courtship," and any deviation from this pattern, either in behavior or in timing, was frowned upon. Those involved were subjected to social disapproval or scorn.

It was not, for example, considered proper for boys to kiss girls on their first dates. When girls permitted or encouraged this, boys often regarded them as " easy marks " - a label that did not encourage them to consider the girls seriously as future mates.
similarly, there were socially approved attitudes both boys and girls were expected to have toward members of the opposite sex and toward their relationships with each other. These attitudes were colored by unrealism and were highly romanticized.

New attitudes toward sexual behavior

In the past , a date with a girl meant getting dressed up, taking her a gift of candy, flowers, or a book, seeing her under the parental roof, and leaving at a prescribed time. Attitudes toward what young people did on dates were also carefully prescribed. Kissing and petting were considered in bad taste if not actually wrong unless the couple was engaged. Even then, petting was very limited and within the bounds of what was regarded as "proper" and safe.

New social attitudes toward sex, the ready availability of contraceptive devices, and the legalization  
of abortion in many states have brought about radical changes in sexual behavior during adolescence and in attitudes toward sex and sexual behavior. While these changes are by no means, universal, they are widespread enough to be regarded as " typical" of adolescents today in urban and suburban centers and , to a lesser extent, in small towns and rural communities.

In past, girls who engaged in heavy petting and intercourse lost the respect of boys even though they may have been more popular as dating partners than girls who refused to engage in these forms of sexual behavior. Today, adolescent boys maintain that marrying a virgin is unimportant to them,though they tend to lose respect for girls who are too promiscuous  and too permissive. Thus, the " double standard " is gradually giving way to a single standard which holds for girls as well as for boys.

cost - of - teen - childbirth - Asia
There are also new social attitudes toward premarital pregnancy and toward keeping the child, even when there is no intention on the part of the parents to marry. Today, some parents accept daughters with illegitimate children and share in the care  expenses involved in the care. Other adolescents, when they become aware of pregnancy, many even though they are still students and have no independent source of support.

Older adolescents in urban and suburban communities have a more permissive attitude toward living together without marriage--cohabitation--than those in small towns of rural districts. Older adolescents in college tend to cohabit more frequently than those who go to work when they finish high school. Living together without marriage is also more common and more condoned by peers among older adolescents than among younger adolescents who are still living under the parental roof have not yet reached the legal age of school leaving.

Approved Sex Roles During Adolescence

The second developmental task relating to sexuality adolescents must master is learning to play approved sex roles. This is even more difficult for many adolescents, especially for girls, than mastering the first developmental task relating to sexuality- learning to get along with age-mates of the opposite sex.

As was pointed out  earlier, sex-role typing or learning to play socially approved sex roles is easier for boys than for girls. Girls, by contrast, often reach adolescence with blurred concepts of the female role, though their concepts of the male role are clearer and better defined. This is because, as children, they were permitted to look , act, and feel much as boys without constant proddings to be " feminine." 
Sex education courses in junior and senior high school are important in fostering concepts of the traditional roles of males and females.

Effects of sex- role typing on adolescents

sex-role typing affects the behavior and attitudes of both male and female adolescents but in different ways. Of the many effects, four are so common that they are almost universal in the American culture of today,  They are as follows.

- Feelings of Masculine Superiority
- Sex Bias
- Underachievement
- Fear of Success



The majority of older adolescents in North America are sexually active, yet many do not take appropriate precautions to prevent pregnancy or  the spread of sexually transmitted infections. It is clear that sexual (including sexual intercourse) is common among today's adolescent and many of the behaviors that they engage in put them at risk for contracting STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and experiencing unwanted pregnancy.


Developing a sexual self-concept is an important developmental step during adolescence. This is when adolescents try to make sense and organize their sexual experiences. So that they understand the structures and underlying motivations for their sexual behavior. The sexual self-concept helps adolescents organize their past experiences , but also gives them information to draw on for their, current and future sexual thoughts and experiences. Sexual self-concept affects sexual behavior for both men and women.





References : Developmental Psychology- A Life - Span Approach (Elizabeth B. Hurlock) Lecturer, Consultant, and Author.



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