All Articles Tagged "teenagers"
I miss the old days when calling to make sure someone made it home safely and sending flowers were ways to prove your love. Nowadays you have to tattoo someone’s name (or face) on you to show them it’s real, or as a new trend shows, give them all of your online passwords.
A New York Times article, Young, in Love and Sharing Everything, Including a Password, shows teenagers are increasingly giving each other their account information as a sign of unwavering devotion.
“It’s a sign of trust,” Tiffany Carandang, a high school senior in San Francisco, told the New York Times of why she and her boyfriend decided to share passwords for e-mail and Facebook. “I have nothing to hide from him, and he has nothing to hide from me. I know he’d never do anything to hurt my reputation.”
Tiffany’s not alone in her thinking. A 2011 telephone survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 30% of teenagers who were regularly online had shared a password with a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Of the 770 teenagers aged 12 to 17, girls were almost twice as likely as boys to share their information (figures).
On the surface, you could look at the practice as “cute” like many teens do, but in some ways it’ also a mature step that’s just not necessary at that age—or possibly at any. Teenagers are notorious for hooking up with someone quickly, thinking they’re in love within a month or two, and planning their wedding after a year. When you’re young, dating should be carefree and giving someone access to your entire online life is just asking for problems. Facebook already causes enough issues among adult couples as it is, and I’ve seen enough accounts get altered when there’s a breakdown in a relationship to know that among teens, this is just asking for a cyber-bulling breakout.
Sam Biddle of Gizmodo website calls password sharing “a linchpin of intimacy” for all couples in the 21st century. “I’ve known plenty of couples who have shared passwords, and not a single one has not regretted it,” he said, adding that the practice includes the unspoken potential for mutually assured destruction if somebody gets out of line. “It’s the kind of symbolism that always goes awry.”
When I first saw this article, I instantly thought of Angela on “Why Did I Get Married Too” and how important it was for her to have Marcus’s email and phone passwords as a sign of his faithfulness. If you need to have your partner’s password, that means you need to be assured they’re faithful, and if you need that reassurance, you may not need to be in a relationship with them at all. Having someone’s password is just approval to snoop, and as we’ve talked about many times on this site, if you have to snoop, it’s probably time to go anyway.
I had my ex’s email password when we were together but not because I asked him for it or I wanted it. He needed help with something he was working on and gave me the password to access information in his account. Yes, I kept the password in case I needed it in the future, but he never asked me for mine and I never intended on giving it to him. When you’re in a relationship, you ought to be able to keep some things separate and private and I think emails are one of those things—especially if we’re not married. We’re not sharing bank accounts so we don’t need to share email accounts. I think all of these ridiculous ways of proving your love for someone are just a sign of our twisted times. If you want to prove you love me, simply treat me right, I don’t need to check and see who’s poking you on Facebook.
What do you think about this idea of teenagers giving each other their online passwords? Do you have your partner’s account information? Do you think married couples should exchange that info?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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When you teach sex-ed in the inner city, you manage to be less and less shocked about the secret sex lives of teenagers. I’ve heard detailed defenses about how effective the pull-out method is as a birth control method and how ear wax is a reliable tool for STI testing. But last week I found myself picking my jaw up off of my desk as I read Brande Victorian’s 1 in 13 Girls Has Had Gro*up Sex which highlighted a study researching the growing fad of gro*up sex among Boston-area teenagers. The study appeared in the Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine and revealed that 1 in 13 girls had engaged in at least one type of multi-person sex (MPS) ranging from gang rape to sex parties. What’s even more concerning is that more than half of the 328 girls surveyed in a Boston-area community or school-based clinic revealed that they felt pressure to engage in gro*up sex that was more often than not non-consensual.
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health identified certain common factors that teens engaging in MPS had “a strong association between exposure to pornography.” If you look hard enough you can find a variety of culprits to take the blame for what seems to be an increasing pattern of teens challenging the sexual norms of society. With a simple mouse-click and a quick yes to a pop-up that questions, “Are you over 18? Please enter your birth date,” any adolescent who passed basic math can access free Adult Videos with insulting ease. You can also turn on the radio and hear artists like pop favorite Rihanna chanting about S&M and Usher beckon a sexually liberated Nicki Minaj to proposition girls in a club and bring them to him so they can play in each other’s pants. Give your teen a little credit; they could probably teach you a thing or two about taboo sexual behavior, although when experimenting with sex I’m willing to bet Usher is the last thing on their minds.
It’s not so much the case of teens being overtly sexual and pushing the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable, but more their willingness to express these sexual values. As our society grows more and more sexualized, young people feel more comfortable expressing their sexual attitudes and are willing to accept behaviors that traditionally may have been viewed as abnormal. On a positive note, alternative lifestyles can be viewed regularly on TV and teens are becoming more informed that all types of sex (even the ”freaky” stuff) can put them at risk for STI’s. On a positive note, I feel like our society is moving in the right direction when teens feel they can be open and honest about sexuality. A teen that feels free to talk about masturbation, pornography or gro*up sex may also feel just as comfortable asking about condom use and birth control. It’s almost as if America is slowly awakening and thinking, “OK, teens have sex, what can we do so that they can make good decisions regarding their sexual conduct?” As frequent as sexuality appears in our media, it makes sense that sexual education appear just as much if not more.
If I’m completely honest with myself, I’ve been hearing rumors about “trains” being pulled on girls and “Rainbow Parties” (that have nothing to do with gay pride) since I was in high school. But I always felt that I had a choice as to whether or not I engaged in those types of activities. One-third of the teens who participated in the study used drugs or alcohol prior to their most recent experience and even felt pressure to be “liquored-up” by their sexual partners. This makes me question why such a large number of our teens are lacking the confidence to stand up for their sexual values. I’m not the biggest fan of teens engaging in risky sexual behaviors or having multiple partners, but the truth is these teens will grow into adults who are free to engage in whatever taboo practices they wish as long as they aren’t hurting themselves or one another. The important thing is that they have the confidence to give or deny consent which it seems our teens are obviously lacking.
As parents and other caregivers, we only have so much say in the sexual interests of our teens, but the best we can do is make sure they are making well-informed decisions whether they’re diving into the waters of sexual deviance or simply dipping their toes into the shallow waters of sexual experimentation. Teens need to know just as much about what constitutes as consent and how age relates to laws governing sexuality as they know about condoms and STI testing. Although we’ve made tremendous progress in opening the gates for open honest conversation about the birds and bees and birth control by making sure young people have more access to sexual education, we need to be just as sure that our teens are armed with the tools to navigate healthy relationships and are able to identify and communicate their sexual wants and needs so that they aren’t taken advantage of or violating anyone else.
No teen wants to talk to their parents about sex, but is a Planned Parenthood staff member the next best thing? The Denver affiliate of the national organization seems to think so. As part of the Denver Teen Pregnancy Prevention Partnership, Planned Parenthood has launched a text-messaging program called In Case You’re Curious that will allow teens to text their questions to the organization. The texts will be intercepted by a Planned Parenthood staff member who will answer within 24 hours—using 160 characters or less.
“We always encourage youth to have conversations with their parents, but we also recognize that not everyone has that ability,” says Alison Macklin, director of community education for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “We’re not trying to take the place of those conversations, of them providing firsthand knowledge, but rather we’re providing a way to help answer questions.”
So far, about 500 messages have been received and Macklin says they hope to double that next year.
While the idea of a young teen getting an answer to a question that could potentially be quite serious in such a short way seems a little scary to me, Macklin says it allows the organization to be of immediate assistance on some topics.
“Our goal is to arm youth with medically accurate, age-appropriate information about what might be going on with their bodies,” she said. “We’d rather have them have access to that information than wondering or relying on common myths, like ‘It’s better to use two condoms rather than one,’ when the reality is that doing so will actually increase the risk for an unplanned pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease.”
In Case You’re Curious is slated to run for a year and could potentially be expanded to other cities after that.Keith Mason, president of Denver-based Personhood USA, which aims to end abortions in Colorado, hopes that doesn’t happen. “It’s just another extension of their abortion-marketing plan. Just like restaurants use texts to give out coupons, this is their way of driving young people to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion chain in America.”
How do you feel about this idea? Is Planned Parenthood overstepping their bounds by offering this service or could it potentially be beneficial?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Late last year, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage, along with his partner, created a YouTube video addressed to young people of the LGBT community. The video was meant to inspire hope that although things are tough now, it will get better. After the response the video received nationally, the single video morphed into the “It Gets Better” Project, which featured similar video testimonies from those within the LGBT communities to those kids around the country, who might be subjected to ridicule and bullying or who may have contemplated suicide because of their sexuality.
The videos, which last no more than 5-10 minutes are sometimes emotional and most times inspirational. They send a positive message to young people that it is possible to not only survive their teen years but that there is a whole world of more accepting people awaiting them. I love the ideas of these videos. In fact, I began to believe that we need a similar project for little black kids.
Like last week, I read the gut-wrenching story of 10 year-old Jasmine McClain, who was found hanging in her bedroom. Her death had been ruled a suicide and many people suspect that she took her own life after enduring vicious bullying at school. Her tormentors took issues with her clothing and shoes; therefore, they felt that they were in the right to make her short existence on earth a living hell.
The story may seems out of the norm, especially with the widespread belief that black people just don’t one-themselves, however we are beginning to become more aware of stories of young black children, particularly girl children, contemplating or successfully committing suicide. Just a few days after McClain took her life came the less publicized story of 16-year old Shayna McEntire, an honor roll student and star athlete, who walked into traffic and killed herself. Her decision to end her life came after a painful breakup with her boyfriend.
According to a study, published in 2009, Black American teens, especially females, may be at high risk for attempting suicide. Generally speaking, suicide is the third leading cause of death in all teens in the United States and historically, black teens and young adults have lower suicide rates than white teens. But according to the study, in recent years the suicide rate for black youth has increased dramatically, especially among African American and Caribbean teen girls. There is some research, which suggests that because minority children often encounter racism in their daily lives, they are more prone to symptoms of depression. However, racial dynamics aside, our youth, particularly our little girls must endure criticism intra-racially about issues regarding their hair, skin tones and bodies. The kind of ostracization may lead some black youth vulnerable to low self-image, depression and yes even suicidal thoughts.
I’m a high-school educator by day.
In the teacher’s lounge, where I spend the menial amount of time I’m allowed for lunch, the Maury Povich Show is almost always playing. Before two months ago, I was not at all familiar with his signature “You are NOT the father!” refrain; now, it’s a running gag among the teachers. Though Maury, along with Jerry Springer and talk show hosts of their ilk have been around since I was my students’ age, the subject matter has apparently not changed very much: the show still champions the cultural detritus of the lower-middle class. Even when I was 14, I never understood the type of person who would allow themselves to be scrutinized in such backwards ways. It’s as if there’s a whole cross-section of America who has no problem letting the world know just how trifling their families really are. Today, the issue takes on a more sobering perspective: I look at my students and worry that many of them are itching to be a part of that cross-section.
Yes, I teach underserved, underprivileged black kids in the big city. My students are good kids, by and large, but I definitely see a number of them on the path to The Jerry Springer Show if no intervention is put into place. These are students who experience a dearth of positive male role models and are not taught the importance of education outside of school. I had my first parent-teacher conferences a couple days ago, and it was made crystalline to me why some of my students are who they are: their parents ain’t about a dollar.
So, for all you mothers out there, a simple request from a humble educator: Do everything in your power to keep your child away from daytime talk shows. Raise them to understand what most reasonable people do: that Maury, Jerry, Jenny, Ricki, Montel (the last three have come and gone) and all the others bereft of soul don’t have your best interests at heart when they exploit you and your problems. Teach your spawn that dirt is best kept under the family rug. Problems will exist, as they do in every family, but dammit…appearing on a talk show is the best way to make oneself incapable of being taken seriously, and of getting good employment.
Well, maybe second to getting a Mike Tyson face tattoo, but you understand what I’m trying to say.
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If you haven’t heard by now, not only do pretty girls rock, but pretty girls also sweat!
Sponsored by the popular organization T.E.E.N. Diaries, and The Society of Girls, Inc., on September 24, Project Butterfly touched down in NYC. Manhattan to be specific. Teenagers and young adults sported T-shirts that said “Pretty Girls Sweat” and showed that they do by busting out their best double dutch, jumping rope in place and participating in a lot more heart-pumping activities. The event was hosted by R&B singer Keri Hilson, a former basketball and swim star.
When she arrived, Ms. Keri Baby rocked her Nikes, the same “Pretty Girls Sweat” shirt everyone else was wearing, and a Nike hat to keep her hair from sweating out (we hear that!). She was ready to blend in with the nearly 100 young girls in the venue, and to help motivate them.
“A lot of girls you’ll notice, in life, they shy away from adversity. First yield sign they see, they don’t push through it, they kind of back away. Now a boy grows up and sees a red light and will run right through it. Guys have a certain drive and competitive spirit within. I think it’s important to show young girls that ‘Hey, you can do that too.’”
Known for its work to help minority girls make a smooth transition into adulthood, organizer T.E.E.N. Diaries was influenced by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. CEO Aeshia DeVore Branch says events like Project Butterfly are both important and necessary for young women because they can help take the stigma out of exercising and incorporate fun, sweat-inducing activities into girl’s lifestyles.”We want to teach them that they can find multiple ways to have fun and be fit. So that’s what they walk away today with saying, ‘You know what, I can jump rope and I can dance even if it’s not typically exercise, and I can listen to my favorite music and burn calories.’”
Last Wednesday afternoon I received a text from my boyfriend that was as funny as it was concerning. He writes, “I’m so proud.” I respond, “Why?” He texts, “Got a break in the middle of the day, so I stopped home for lunch and while watching TV, I started to hear noises from next door. So I muted the TV and all I heard were moans and furniture moving. I think Lil’ Devon* was getting it in!”
Let me give you the back story on Lil’ Devon. He’s actually not so little and stands at about 5’7” at the age of 14. I never have spoken to him much besides a casual, “How are you?” when stepping inside the house, but he lives next door with his single-mom and little sisters. Lately, I’ve seen Devon hanging out with a young lady from the neighborhood, walking to the store or grabbing some water-ice with her. But I guess it’s clear they’ve been doing a lot more than “hanging,” and I seriously doubt that Lil’ Devon’s mom knows that he’s rearranging her living room furniture all day while she works full-time. That explains the empty condom wrappers that we’d always find behind the house that almost got my boyfriend beat into oblivion. Guess Devon was covering his tracks by throwing them away in our trashcan.
*Names have been changed for privacy.
I recall an incident that happened to me last year while going to a club on South Street, a touristy area of Philadelphia known for its clubs and bars and quirky shops. As I exited my vehicle, which I had parked a few blocks from the nightclub, a swarm of 50 or so people came out of nowhere and descended upon the area like a flock of birds. My first instinct was to haul-A$$ along with them because naturally, when you see a bunch of people running, it’s best not to wait around to see what they are running from. But as I was putting my key in the door, I noticed that these running people were in fact, children mostly between the ages of 11 to 17, who ran from corner to corner, kicking mailboxes, turning over trashcans and laughing and giggling down the street. Later it was reported on the news that the roving band of kids were “flash mobbing” and that they had attacked a number of shops and broken a woman’s leg.
Again that was last summer yet what should have been a random occurrence has become an almost frequent act here in the city of Brotherly Love. And today, I sit in the comforts of my home watching videos of the streets of London, and European cities beyond, being trashed and burned by wayward youth, I also listen as newscasters, pundits, blogger and everyday citizens are trying to make sense of the mayhem. Those here in the States are wondering if this sort of rebellion could possibly happen here. Well, I got news for you: it already is happening. But folks have not been paying attention.
Bands of youth, known as flash mobs are a growing problem in large and small cities around the country. The phrase typically refers to a large crowd of individuals — usually teens — that use social networks to coordinate riots, assaults and robberies. Last month, About 100 Pittsburgh teenagers swarmed a number of retail shops including a McDonald’s and a Target, throwing chairs and wreaking havoc after leaving a community church picnic.
In Chicago, teenage posses have been organizing since February and targeting tourist hot spots in and around that City. And just last week, hundreds of teens in Milwaukee attacked people as they left a state fair, punching and kicking people and shaking and pounding on their vehicles. At least 31 people were arrested – many for disorderly conduct – in connection with the incidents and at least 11 people, seven of them police officers, were injured,
It’s easy to see the connection between the flashmobs happening across the country and London’s riots. Just like in London, politicians, police chiefs and the media have reacted to the chaos by labeling these kids as wayward thugs, animals and mindless criminals run amok. British prime Minister David Cameron has referred to the rioting as “pure criminality.”
The response from the powers that has been to push the need for harsher police interventions. No one can’t seem to connect the dots and realize that the massive poverty, unemployment and social deprivation that now exists in so many low-income communities, both here in the States as well as in the UK, wouldn’t eventually just be confined to just those communities.
There is no debating that the unstable global economy, which has led to some rather crippling economic austerity measures, has had a particular devastating trickle down effect on the poor and communities of color around the world. Stateside, cities and states are closing libraries, recreation centers and other program geared to mostly impoverished children. Likewise Black teens unemployment hovers around 40.7 percent, which is about double their white counterpart. Deep budget cuts to education has left many school districts eliminating classes and closing doors. And let us not forget the deep cuts to entitlements at a time when a record-breaking 40 million people are relaying on some form of public assistance to get them through this tough time. So why then are we surprised when the most vulnerable population – i.e. the children – react to the very circumstances in which we expect them accept so readily?
It’s has been no secret that when the poverty and unemployment goes up, so does crime. But politicians have pretty much ignored this reality and taken to the tactic of shaming parents and the children alike with phrases like, “you have damaged your own race.” I don’t think that we should let parents off the hook but I also believe the greater community at large shares inmuch of the burden for whatever “damage” to the race these teenage rebellions are promoting. Whether it be neglect or just being overburdened, what happens when there is no parental leadership in the home? Who then becomes responsible for the children? Do we expect the children to just raise themselves, wait until there is a full-fledge rebellion like on the streets of London or do we all as a community of adults, extended parents, mentors and leaders carry a bit of the load of providing the guidance, love and stability these children are so desperately crying out for?
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.