Section 1, Article 6 - The onset of puberty marks the beginning of a complex journey in human sexuality, which is a vital part of adolescence. and experience dramatic growth, preparing adolescents’ bodies to engage in reproduction. However, the process is not just physical; the increased levels of sex hormones affect adolescents’ thought processes and sexual interest. Moreover, various cultural influences and significantly affect the process of sexual maturation in adolescents.
Fueled by raging hormones, sexual activity increases during adolescence. Sexual activities range from flirting and hand-holding to masturbation, oral sex, and intercourse. In U.S. culture, there has been a double standard regarding sex– it is acceptable for boys to be sexually active but not for girls. However, this double standard has been narrowing in every ethnic group since 2000. In addition, adolescents are now engaging in sexual activity later than they once were. From 1991 to 2011, the amount of U.S. eleventh-graders who reported having had intercourse went from 62% to 53% ().
A major social problem resulting from adolescent sex is teenage pregnancy. The rate of teenage pregnancy in the U.S. is higher than that of any other developed nation (). There are a number of health risks and challenges associated with teenage pregnancy. Pregnant teens often lack the knowledge and support to care for themselves properly during pregnancy. In addition, pregnant teens under the age of 16 are more likely to experience complications such as high blood pressure, stillbirths, premature births, and newborns who are underweight ().
A devastating problem that typically increases during adolescence is child sexual abuse, which is defined as any sexual activity between a juvenile and an adult. Even if the victim does not protest or genital contact is not involved, it is still abuse. Sadly, the effects of child sexual abuse have lasting consequences; when children are abused, they experience higher rates of nearly every adolescent issue.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are another major issue in adolescent sexuality. Across the world, sexually active teenagers experience the most common STIs at a higher rate than any other age group, including gonorrhea, genital herpes, and chlamydia (). Although there are a number of ways to decrease the likelihood of contracting a STI, abstinence is the only way to avoid it altogether.