Most teens will express an interest in sex at some point or another. But is your teen’s interest in sex unhealthy or harmful? Does the media they are exposed to give them unrealistic expectations around sex and relationships? How can you help your teen have more grounded ideas around sex or express their sexuality responsibly and appropriately?
Conversations with your teen about healthy sex habits can be challenging. Even if you have an open and honest relationship with your child, you can still feel awkward or uncomfortable having these talks. If you’re worried that your teen is already building unhealthy sex habits or has an unusual interest in or relationship to sex, it’s not too late! Venture Academy is a leader in teen behavioural health in Canada, with two scenic campuses in Red Deer, AB, and Barrie, ON. Call Venture Academy today at 866.762.2211 to speak with our admissions counsellors about helping your teen establish responsible and healthy sex habits.
Signs of an Unhealthy Teen Interest in Sex
Teens and children are curious about sex; it’s a part of growing up. The environment and some social factors will shape their ideas and expectations around sex, as will the media they interact with. So, it’s important to monitor your children’s media usage and their interactions with their peers. In doing so, you’ll be able to address problematic behaviours and ideas. By keeping an eye on your child and being open and honest with them about sex, you’ll give them the language and confidence to question assumptions and behaviours around sex that may be harmful.
Still, you won’t know everything about your child, and it’s natural for teens to have secrets. They are growing up, and their inner life and privacy may be increasingly important, especially around their sexual identities, expressions and relationships. Even though your teen’s interest in sex might be worrying for you, it is a natural and necessary aspect of their growth and development. But, if you’re worried that your teen has adopted unhealthy sex habits or if your teen’s interest in sex is concerning or unusual, there are some tell-tale signs to look for:
#1: Inappropriate or Aggressive Sexual Behaviours Around Others
In all sexual relationships, ongoing, enthusiastic consent is vitally important. Begin teaching your children the value of consent and the power of “no” early. Teach them that their bodies are their own; don’t force them to hug or kiss friends and relatives if they don’t want to. Help your child practise respecting other peoples’ boundaries when they are told their behaviour is making someone else uncomfortable.
But, teenage sexuality can be confusing. Impulses can be hard to control, even with early, ongoing practise in consent and self-control. If your teen is behaving in ways that upset others even when they’ve been asked to stop, if they’re pressuring their peers to engage in sexual activity, or if they’re being otherwise aggressive, this may indicate an unhealthy understanding of how sex—and more generally, relationships—work.
#2: Unhealthy Sex Habits Like Using or Circulating Pornography
The internet has transformed our world in a very short time, and it can be a challenge to keep up with the material that circulates on it. In particular, pornography has become much more accessible to children and teens, and as a result, they may have an understanding of sex that is exaggerated or incorrect.
Additionally, our smartphones have made it easier to create and circulate pornographic images without consent. Teens may think that sexting (sending sexually explicit messages or photos via text) is harmless and private. But that content can be shared among extended friend groups or on the internet without the creator’s or subject’s knowledge. Once an image is on the web, it can be next to impossible to ever take control of it again. Furthermore, “revenge porn,” in which someone shares a sexually explicit image of someone else as a way of punishing that person, is on the rise.
If your teen is using, creating, or sharing pornography, talk to them about the risks and ramifications of that behaviour and provide resources and support to help them have a healthier understanding of sex and relationships.
#3: Sexual Interest in People Outside of Their Age Group
Crushes are a normal part of growing up, but if your teen is expressing sexual interest in persons who are far outside of their own age group, it may be indicative of a bigger problem. People can be victims of sexual abuse at any age. On many occasions, children often enact sexual abuse against other children, even if they don’t fully understand what they’re doing or why. Children and teens will mirror behaviours exhibited towards them, perpetuating cycles of abuse even before they have the language to describe what is happening.
If your child or teen is exhibiting unhealthy sexual interest in people outside of their own age group, they may be preying on others or even be victims themselves, so it is important to get them professional help as soon as possible.
Teens and Sex: Help Is Available!
It’s hard to navigate sex and relationships as a teenager or as the parent of a teenager. If you’re concerned that your teen’s interest in sex is unhealthy, harmful, or abnormal, it’s okay to reach out for help. Venture Academy is a recognised leader in teen behavioural care in Canada, with proven treatment programmes supported by year-round outdoor activities in our three beautiful camps. Located in Red Deer, AB and Barrie, ON, Venture Academy is accessible to nearly all major metropolitan areas and small communities alike. Call Venture Academy today at [direct]; our admissions counsellors will be happy to discuss our programmes with you and get your teen the help they need.