Teen Hookup Culture

Culture, Dating, Depression, Health, Relationships, Safety

Gone are the days when teenage boys ask teenage girls out on dates. Gone are the days when boys go pick girls up at their house, with flowers in hand, meet their parents, take them to dinner and a movie, and then take them back home. Nope, that doesn’t happen anymore. Now the teen “dating scene” is consisted of making out at parties, and maybe becoming boyfriend/girlfriend later; or maybe never seeing each other again.

Sure, I suppose there are still some gentlemen out there who still take girls on dates. But unfortunately, “hooking up” is becoming the norm among young people. Hooking up isn’t by any means a new phenomenon, people have been doing it for ages. But this is the first time that hooking up has been the norm instead of dating.

“Hooking up” refers to anything from kissing to sex, and everything in between. It is called hooking up when the two participants aren’t in a relationship with each other. It is essentially just casual sex, or casual whatever, with someone you aren’t committed to. Some other related terms are “messing around,” and “friends with benefits.”

About two-thirds of teenagers today say at least one of their friends has hooked up with someone, and about 40% of them say they had sex while hooking up. Studies show that kids as young as 12 years old are hooking up.

Why is this the norm now?

  • Kids have busier, less attentive parents who don’t know what they’re watching or listening to, or where they are or who they’re hanging out with.
  • Kids see constant displays of casual sex on TV, in movies, and in songs.
  • Kids have access to the internet and texting, which allows them to say things to people that they probably wouldn’t say in person.
  • With everything they see in the media, kids are getting the message that this is just what people do.

So, why is hooking up a bad thing? Isn’t it okay to have fun while you’re young? Uh, well, for one thing, hooking up with several people you hardly know could result in you getting a sexually transmitted disease. For another thing, many teens who hook up get overwhelmed with unexpected emotions, whether they develop strong feelings for the person they hooked up with and that person doesn’t feel the same way, or they feel guilty and dirty after what they did. Teens who have casual sexual relationships are also much more likely to experience stress and depression than teens who are in committed relationships. So, sure, it’ll be fun in the moment (maybe)… but then you’ll have to deal with the consequences later.

Don’t hook up just because you feel like everyone is doing it. Really, have some respect for yourself. Don’t you want to experience that kind of intimacy and romance with someone you’re actually close with, someone who actually cares about you? Take care of  your body and your heart. Don’t give them to anybody who comes along.

Teen Suicide: There is Always Hope

Alcohol, Bullying, Depression, Drugs, Health, Life, Prescription Drug Abuse, Safety, School, Trouble

Have you ever known someone who committed or attempted suicide? It sucks. Some people feel so overwhelmingly hopeless that they don’t know what to do other than ending their life. That level of pain and misery is hard for a lot of people to imagine, but some people have such a hard time getting through each day that they just can’t do it anymore. And once everyone finally knows how they really felt and what it caused them to do, we’re all left here wondering, “Why didn’t I do something? Why wasn’t I there for them? What could I have done to save them? Is it my fault?”

When a friend or family member does commit suicide, don’t ever blame yourself. It isn’t your fault. It’s natural to have those thoughts and feel guilty, but really, you cannot blame yourself. When people think about killing themselves, it isn’t because of one or two things that happened, or even because of one or two people; it’s always very complex. There’s a lot going on in their lives, and it all adds up to the point where they choose to end it. So if you feel like it’s something you did or didn’t do, don’t put that kind of blame on yourself, because there probably was a lot more to it than you know.

Teen suicide is becoming a huge problem. In the United States, suicide is currently the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24. When people commit suicide, they attempt it approximately 25 times before they are “successful.” Most suicides are committed with guns, many are committed by overdosing.

What is going on? Why are people doing this?

Being a teenager can be a strange time in a person’s life. You’re awkwardly in the middle of being a child and being an adult. It can be a time of tremendous hope and possibility, but also a time of great stress, pressure, and confusion. Dealing with people at school can be rough, being pressured by society sucks, and it seems like everyone expects you to figure out you’re whole life right now: Are your grades good enough? What sports will you play? Where are you going to go to college? What are you going to major in? What job do you want for the rest of your life? Does that job make enough money to support your family? When will you get married?

The list goes on and on and on….

It’s a rough time for everybody, but some people seem to have rougher circumstances than others. There are many factors that put teenagers at risk for thinking about suicide, here are some of them:

  • mental health problems: anxiety, depression, bipolar, insomnia
  • going through major life changes: parents’ divorce or separation, moving, parents in the military, financial changes, victims of bullying
  • alcohol/drug use
  • feelings of distress, irritability, agitation
  • feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • previous suicide attempts
  • family history of depression, suicide
  • victims of emotional, physical, sexual abuse
  • lack of support network, poor relationships with parents and/or peers, social isolation
  • dealing with bisexuality or homosexuality in an unsupportive or hostile environment

When people are planning on killing themselves, they almost always give the people around them warning signs. Sometimes, tragically, people see their cries for help as them “wanting attention.” If you think someone might be hinting that they’re going to attempt suicide, you must take it seriously. Don’t hesitate to get help, because what if they’re serious?

Some warning signs are:

  • talking about suicide or death
  • giving hints that they might not be around anymore
  • talking about feeling hopeless/guilty
  • pulling away from friends and family
  • writing songs, poems, and letters about death and loss
  • giving away their things
  • loss of desire to take part in their favorite things and activities
  • changes in personality/behavior
  • fatigue/loss of energy
  • neglect of appearance/hygiene
  • sadness/indifference
  • aggressive, destructive, or defiant behavior
  • poor school performance
  • engaging in risk-taking behaviors
  • having trouble concentrating/thinking clearly

If you suspect that a friend is having suicidal thoughts, make sure to express your concern, support, and love to them. Knowing that someone cares and someone wants to help will give them hope. Tell a trusted adult who is close with your friend, like a parent, another relative, coach, counselor, or teacher, and ask them to talk to them. Another important thing you should do, even though it might be awkward, but you need to ask questions. Ask how they’re feeling, if they’re going through anything, if they need help. Ask them if they’ve been thinking about killing themselves. Just bring it up. They may hesitate at first, but if they say yes, get help immediately and let them know how much you and so many other people care about them. If you need to take drastic measures, you can tell a doctor who can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

If YOU are feeling suicidal, tell someone. It may not seem like it, but so many people do care about you: parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, classmates, teammates, coworkers, teachers, counselors, neighbors. Make sure someone knows how you’re feeling so they can help you. If you feel uncomfortable talking to somebody, you can always call 1-(800)-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK for help, too.

Nobody should ever feel hopeless, because there is always hope.

Smoking Isn’t Cool

Drugs, Health, Safety, Trouble

Lets be real… smoking is gross. I mean, really, what’s good about it? Your friends might do it, you might think it makes you “cool,” it might give you a little buzz. But here’s what’s bad about it. It will:

  • decrease your physical fitness
  • increase your chances of getting cancer… no, not just lung cancer. Also throat, stomach, and bladder cancer
  • increase your chances of getting infections like bronchitis and pneumonia
  • increase your chances of getting sick
  • give you wrinkles
  • turn your teeth yellow
  • decrease your bone density
  • it could affect your sexual health… girls who are on birth control and smoke increase their risk of serious health problems, like heart attacks
  • give you bad breath
  • give you bad skin
  • make your clothes and hair smell bad
  • reduce your athletic performance
  • increase your risk of injury, and cause you to have a slower healing time
  • increase your risk of emphysema (breakdown of lung tissues)
  • increase your risk of heart disease
  • shorten your life by 10 years or more
  • cost you around $1,000 a year if you smoke everyday… imagine what you can do with $1,000!

That’s a lot of terrible stuff. So why do people do it?

Children and teens usually start smoking because they think it’ll make them look “cool and grown up,” or their friends peer pressure them into doing it. Kids who see a lot of smoking advertisements and see a lot of smoking in movies are also more likely to do it.

The sad thing is, most people who start smoking start as kids or teens. Studies show that among adults who smoke, 68% started smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 85% start at age 21 or younger. Everyday in the United States, around 3,900 children and teens try their first cigarette… about 950 of them will become regular, daily smokers, and half of them will ultimately die from it.

People who start smoking at an earlier age are also more likely to develop a severe addiction than people who start smoking later in life. They also have even greater health risks. Not that you should smoke at ANY point in your life, but you should know that smoking as an adolescent is even worse than smoking as an adult.

Once you start smoking, it’s hard to quit because of nicotine. Nicotine is an extremely addicting drug, and your body and mind can become so used to it that they need it to feel normal. Nicotine and all the other chemicals in cigarettes are POISONS. They break down your body and can kill you in high doses.

If you think that hookahs, e-cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco are all safer alternatives to cigarettes… you’re wrong. None of those things are any better for you than cigarettes.

Really guys, smoking isn’t cool. It’s dangerous and disgusting. In the U.S., 1 in 5 deaths is caused by smoking… that’s 20%. Do you realize how huge that is? Just don’t even try one cigarette… you don’t want to go there.

Sexual Abuse: No Means NO!

Dating, Health, Relationships, Safety, Teen Pregnancy, Trouble

In the United States, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of sexual abuse at some point in their lives. Sexual abuse can be rape, inappropriate touching, the abuser showing the victim pornography, or doing anything else sexually that the victim isn’t comfortable with. When someone says “no,” that means NO and if the other person forces them to do it anyway, that’s sexual assault.

In most sexual abuse situations, the abuser is someone the victim knows well. Of course, that isn’t ALWAYS the case; but usually it is a boyfriend or girlfriend, a teacher or coach, even a good family friend or a friend’s parent. Sometimes sexual assault is a one-time thing, and sometimes it goes on for weeks, months, or years… in either case, it is NOT okay and shouldn’t be kept a secret.

People who are being sexually abused usually develop low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness, have an abnormal/distorted view of love and sex, become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can sometimes even become suicidal. If one of your friends starts acting this way, you should ask them what’s going on.

If someone is trying to get you to do something you’re uncomfortable with, even if you’re dating them, you can ALWAYS say no. Even if you’ve already started doing it, it’s okay to change your mind… even if you’ve already done it before, whether it’s been once or several times, you can STILL say no. They might try to manipulate you into doing it by saying “If you really loved me, you’d do it,” or “We’ve done it before, so you might as well”… don’t listen to them. If they really loved YOU, they wouldn’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to do. If they do something to you, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. It doesn’t matter how you look, how you’re dressed, what you say, where you are, or who you’re with. It’s never your fault.

If you are sexually assaulted, here’s what you need to do:

  • Seek medical attention, preferably at the Emergency Room if you can. Make sure you go right away, don’t shower or change clothes first, so you don’t disturb any evidence that medical staff might be able to collect for the police. The medical staff can make sure you’re okay, and also do tests to see if you’re pregnant, if you were drugged, or if you got an STD. Have a friend or trusted adult go with you to make things easier.
  • If you want to report the assault, call the police.
  • Tell a friend or an adult so somebody knows what happened to you. They can help you figure out what to do, and find a safe place to stay if you need one.
  • If you don’t feel like you can tell anyone, call a local service provider that helps sexual abuse victims or a national hotline. Some national hotlines you can call are: The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673), the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 and 1-866-331-8453, and the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

If you find out that one of your friends is being sexually abused, or even if they won’t tell you but you think they are…

  • Talk to them about it. Ask them if anyone is hurting them or forcing them to do anything inappropriate. Listen patiently, and without judgment; let them know it’s not their fault, and offer your support and encouragement in getting help.
  • Try to get them to go to the hospital, offer to go with them.
  • Report the assault to an adult you trust, even if your friend doesn’t want you to. Telling someone might save their life.

Underage Drinking: How It Affects Your Body, Mind, & Decisions

Alcohol, Health, Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Crime, Safety, Trouble

It seems like everybody’s drinking underage these days. Teens get together on weekends at a friends house while their parents are gone, an older friend or sibling brings some alcohol, and they throw themselves a little party. That’s what all the cool kids do, right? Why should we have to wait to drink til we’re 21, what’s the big deal?

Your body and brain aren’t fully developed yet, and alcohol can seriously affect you. That’s the big deal.

Studies show that about 26% of youth between 12-20 drink regularly. As teens get older, they are more likely to start drinking. Even though drinking seems like a cool, fun social thing to do, think about the consequences. You could:

  • Get arrested: Getting an MIP is something that would go on your record. You could have to pay a fine, do community service, and/or spend some time in jail. Plus, you don’t want to have to tell future employers that you’ve been arrested.
  • Get suspended from school: Even if you’re drinking on your own time away from school, you’ve still committed a crime and your school can get involved.
  • Get suspended or kicked off of a team/club: Sports teams especially take partying and drinking very seriously. Not only does drinking affect your health and athletic ability, but most teams encourage players to be responsible and make smart decisions.
  • Get grounded: Your parents could take away privileges like playing video games, watching TV, and going out with friends.
  • Lose driving privileges: If you get caught driving under the influence, the state could take your drivers license away. Even if you don’t drive drunk, your parents could take your car keys away as punishment.

Besides the fear of getting caught and the consequences you’ll face for underage drinking, alcohol can seriously affect your brain and your entire body. Even if you feel mature enough to drink, or if you’re over 18 and a legal adult, there’s a reason the legal age for alcohol consumption is 21. For those over 21, sure, there is a healthy amount of alcohol consumption that is okay to drink before it starts affecting your body and judgment. For women it’s usually about 1 glass, for men it’s about 2. But for anyone under 21, there’s no healthy amount. Your body and brain are not fully developed until you’re in your early 20’s, and therefore alcohol can do some serious damage to nearly your entire body.

Here’s how:

  1. 100% of alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream when consumed.
  2. Alcohol can do damage to your liver, kidneys, and pancreas, especially when they aren’t fully developed.
  3. It can alter your sleep patterns.
  4. It can affect basic motor function overall, making it difficult for you to perform simple tasks like standing up or walking.
  5. It can alter your thoughts and emotions, affecting your judgment and causing you to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make.
  6. It can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure.
  7. It can cause long term damage your brain and cause you to have memory problems.

Binge drinking, or drinking large amounts of alcohol at a time, can also lead to some serious accidents. If you drive while drunk, you can kill yourself or someone else, whether it’s your friend in the car with you or a stranger on the street. You could make the decision to get in a car with someone who’s driving drunk, which could result in you getting killed. You could have unintentional sex which might even lead to an unplanned pregnancy. You might even do something reckless to kill or injure yourself or someone else.

Doesn’t it sound like it’s worth it to just wait until you’re 21?