Peer Pressure: Advice For Tweens and Teens About Sex & Choices

Last updated on September 12th, 2015 at 11:15 pm

teen couple kissSometimes it feels like everyone’s trying to push you into having sex: your friends, your boyfriend or girlfriend, films and TV. But it’s up to you when you have sex, and it’s OK to say no. Find out how to resist the pressure.

One minute you’re playing kiss-chase in the playground and sex doesn’t come into it. The next minute your friends are obsessed about when everyone will lose their virginity.

You might be thinking about sex, but the reality of it can be confusing. It takes time to understand what sex is all about, and just because you want to know more doesn’t mean that you have to rush into anything.

If you’re feeling pressured into having sex, you’re not alone. You might feel like the only virgin, but the average age that teenagers start having sex in the UK is 16 (and 17 in the US*). This is true for boys and girls so not everyone who says they’ve had sex is telling the truth.

Good relationships start with friendship, and trust builds from there.

What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure is the pressure that your friends and the people you know, put on you to do something you don’t want to do (or don’t feel ready to do), such as have sex. There are different types of peer pressure:

  • obvious peer pressure, such as: “Everyone’s doing it, so should you”
  • underhand peer pressure, such as: “You’re a virgin, you wouldn’t understand”
  • controlling peer pressure, such as: “You would do it if you loved me”

Good reasons to wait until you’re ready

The pressure that your friends put on you is worse than the pressure you put on yourself. Most of us have to deal with it at some point, but it’s difficult when friends brag about having sex and criticise you for being a virgin.

Not everything you hear is true. They could be exaggerating to make themselves look more experienced than you. Rushing into sex just to impress your friends or partner could leave you feeling like a fool because you didn’t make your own decision.

It might help you to remember that:

  • being in love or fancying someone doesn’t mean that you have to have sex
  • not having sex is not a sign that you’re immature
  • saying no to sex is not bad for anyone’s health

It’s fine to say no or to say that you want to wait a while, even if you’ve had sex before. Find out 15 things you should know about sex.

Making your own decision

Don’t do something you’re not ready to do just to please other people. You’re more likely to regret your first time if you do it under pressure. You’re also more likely to forget about contraception and condoms, which help to prevent pregnancy and protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia.

Having sex won’t make your boyfriend or girlfriend like you more or stay with you. Your first time is important, so think carefully about it and take it slowly.

Everyone (girls, boys, lesbian, gay, straight or bisexual) deserves to make their own decision in their own time. Sex can be great when both people like each other and feel ready. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

How to stand up to the pressure

Standing up to peer pressure means deciding whether to go along with everyone else or make your own decisions. Your friends might say things that put you under pressure. Here are some things you can say back to them to keep them quiet:

They say: “You haven’t had sex because no one fancies you.”
You say: “I haven’t had sex because I’m not afraid of saying no” or “I’m waiting for the right person”.

They say: “You’ll get dumped if you don’t do it soon.”
You say: “We like each other for more than just sex.”

They say: “We’ve all done it loads of times.”
You say: “And Santa really climbs down the chimney every year.”

They say: “You must be gay.”
You say: “As if waiting for the right person means anything about my sexuality. Gay and straight people can wait for the right person” or “So what if I am?”

They say: “You’ll get a reputation for being frigid.”
You say: “Waiting for the right person makes me smart, not frigid.”

If you want to talk to someone in confidence, in the UK you can call the Sexual Health Helpline on 0300 123 7123 (for under-25s). (In the US there are several Sexual Health hotline resources available)

Find out more about:

The 15 methods of contraception

Girls’ bodies growing up

Boys’ bodies growing up

How to say no

*Editors Note: Guttmacher Institute – American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health, May 20014

*Photo credit: Sarahcstanley; CC license

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 10-27-2014 to 11-02-2014

Last updated on November 10th, 2014 at 11:15 pm

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 30 events & stories.

PedSafe #1 Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
New app helps flag suicidal tweets http://t.co/l6FQYTaUXF So VERY important!

PedSafe #2 Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
FDA approves treatment for pediatric brain cancer, MD Anderson to start trials http://t.co/f5k0GwFtVs

Stimming and Special Needs: The Good, The Bad and the Flappy

Last updated on November 10th, 2014 at 11:14 pm

child making stimming motions

How do you react when when your dog greets you at the door with a wagging tail or your cat cuddles up to you and purrs loudly? You might think it’s cute or that the animal is just expressing its feelings. Do you ever get angry? do you ever think your pet is acting weird? Of course not, it’s just the natural way they use body language or their voice box.

Now think about how most people react to a child having a tantrum, kicking and screaming. How do people respond when a child with special needs is flapping their hands, spinning a toy car’s wheels or banging their head against a wall. Some people get downright angry about these behaviors, especially when they happen in public. But the child is just expressing his or herself, using the body language and sound that come naturally. While some of these may be harmless, many of these behaviors may be considered annoying or distracting and others can be downright dangerous.

Let’s go back to our beloved pets. A puppy naturally needs to chew, so it finds a shoe and chews it to bits. The puppy isn’t trying to destroy your property or do anything to harm you personally, it is just a teething baby that needs to chew. A good pet owner will simply hide all the shoes and introduce chew toys, substituting a more appropriate way to fulfill the puppy’s need to chew. A cat needs to scratch, it is simply instinct as well as a way to mark territory and sharpen claws. Unless the human wants shredded furniture it’s a good idea to provide a scratching post and train the cat to use it instead of the couch to satisfy its need to scratch.

So how can we allow our special needs kids to express themselves without getting injured or doing damage to themselves or to property? Just like with our animal companions, we substitute a more appropriate behavior that satisfies the same need. If a child seems to need to jump, a small trampoline might be just the ticket. If a child needs to chew, fashionable chew-able accessories are available. Read this article on substituting stimming behaviors and download the worksheet.

As for hand-flapping, if it is an expression of happiness or excitement and it is not injuring the child, anyone else or anyone’s property then why change it?

Photo provided by Kfagan6; CC license