Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sexual Addiction and Teenagers

With all the recent news about celebrities engaging in "sexting," extramarital affairs, and prostitution, one wonders about the sexual behavior of teenagers. How does a parent know when his teenager's behavior is dangerous or addictive in nature? While it is certainly normal for teenagers to experiment with sexuality, sexual behavior which is compulsive and/or destructive is certainly a problem, and should be addressed that way. I am not talking about whether or not your teenagers engages in sexual behavior, and at  what age,  or how many partners she has, or even what gender she is attracted to. You may have family values which necessitate rules about all these sorts of behavior, but they are not addiction. (Good luck enforcing those rules, by the way.) Sexual addiction, by contrast, is compulsive sexual behavior which is destructive to your teenagers and/or others.  For instance, posting pornographic images on oneself on the Internet is both illegal and can  be very harmful to one's future educational and job prospects. Trading sexual favors for money, drugs, or anything of value similarly suggests a dangerous precedent. Having multiple sexual partners, putting oneself in danger of becoming pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease, or being raped, all constitute thoughtless and compulsive behavior, at the least. If yo see any of this, you will need to get your teenager to a therapist knowledgeable about teenagers and their sexual behavior, to sort out teenage experimentation from addictive behavior. No parent can handle this one alone.

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