The urge to seek thrills and risks can drive a teen to indulge in unsafe sex or substance abuse. Keep your child safe from harm by talking about these two topics.
By Jasmine Kaur
Teenage is the time when children set off on a journey of self-discovery. It is also the phase when they experiment, explore and test the boundaries — all of which play an important role in shaping their personality and identity. But teenage is also a period of confusion, doubts and uncertainty. Moreover, some teens are prone to putting up a brave front and indulging in unsafe behaviour like substance abuse or risky sexual practices.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare did a survey from 2015 to 2016 and found that 18.5% of 15 to 19-year-old boys used tobacco while only 1.6% of girls of that age group, did so. It also found that 0.5% of girls and 8.9% of boys, in the 15-19 age group, consumed alcohol as well. Mehta et al published a study entitled, 'Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health in India: The Need to Focus', in the Journal of Young Medical Researchers (2013). The study notes that "there are 49,000 adolescent males and 46,000 adolescent females with HIV positive in India."
These facts may be alarming. But keep in mind that an open conversation with your child can guide them towards safer decisions and behaviour.
There are several reasons why teens resort to risky sexual behaviour. The urge to show off, take risks, curiosity about sex and hormonal changes, make teens especially vulnerable. They may even get trapped into sexually compromising situations. Therefore, it is vital that you talk to your teen about sex as well as the dangers of unsafe sexual encounters.
Here are a few points that you should include in your discussion.
Some teens are prone to using psychoactive substances, which can affect brain function and cause changes in mood and behaviour. They do this for many reasons such as the urge to experiment, feel good or fit into a group. Or it could be due to peer pressure, for instant gratification, under the influence of media or even, as an escape from stress. While most teens indulge in substance abuse out of curiosity and stop after a few attempts, there are some who get addicted right from the first use. Therefore, it is imperative that you talk to your teen about the dangers of substance abuse.
It is always a good idea to initiate these conversations as early as possible. But along with talking to your child about substance abuse or risky sexual practices, you should also model the responsible behaviours and values that you want your child to follow.
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