We have come to a point in humanity where the previously judged and stereotyped have now become a huge part that defines us as people. From extreme hate and misunderstanding, we have come to love and appreciate the LGBT community. From misdiagnosing and shame, we have come to embrace and understand the mental health issues of the world. And from controlling and manipulating our youth, we have come to allow them to be free to be passionate and express themselves. We have come a long way from the stereotypes that previous generations have created for us. We now live in a world that is more accepting and appreciative of change.
They say our family affects our choices and opinions, our beliefs and truths, our red flags and green flags. In everything in our life, we are guided by the virtues and values of the family that we grew up in. We form everything around the norms that we grew up in. This is why some kids grow up to be passionate people and some grow up to be lost souls.
It didn’t occur to me that stress, anxiety, and depression can be brought about by this pandemic. It’s not just us parents who are experiencing these mental health issues. Even children are also susceptible to it. My third child broke down the other day, saying, “I cannot live in this house without going out for another day!” I had to talk to her and ask why she was feeling that way, and her reply was, “I am so sad, mom!”
The 2019 Digital Health Event discussed how emerging technologies and approaches could improve health. With these continuous advances, almost every information is within our reach, and our children’s. What we don’t want to explain to them, they can find unfiltered online. And one of those things we don’t want to talk about is sex.
But, the truth is that most teens wanted to get the sex talk from their parents, not from the web or their friends. If you don’t know where to start, here are some topics that you should include in the sex talk.
Body And Puberty
Start talking to them about their bodies at an early age, and use the correct names for their private parts when you start the talk. Explain to them what happens during puberty and how it is different for girls and boys, and from child to child. You may use anecdotes to help them better understand the changes their bodies will undergo.
Explain to your teens how gender is different from sex. And if they say that they don’t feel like the sex assigned to them at birth, then acknowledge and talk about it. What’s important is that you make your child loved and accepted, regardless of their gender identity.
Your teen will most likely develop a romantic interest or relationship with another person when they hit puberty. That is why the best time to talk about sex is before that, as they will be less likely to act defensive about being in one when they’re younger. Also, never assume that your teen is only interested in having a relationship with the opposite sex. Talk about both heterosexual and same-sex relationships with them.
Intercourse, STD, And Pregnancy
When you start talking about sexual intercourse with them, talk about consent, and safe sex. Then, talk about the effects of unprotected sex – pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Your teen will be unlikely to tell you when they do try to have sex. That is why you should have a conversation about sex with them before they even do so.
Start early is the best tip for all parents when giving the sex talk. Your teens will listen; they’re just waiting for you to be ready to discuss it with them.
On lockdown and every day, my three teens always want a piece of the story that has long been buried. They have a lot of questions about their dad about me, about my parents, and his parents. No, we are not divorced, but he is not around. He is not around anymore. My husband was a hero, one of the firefighters who died in 9-11, and I always tell our children that he was the most honorable man I have ever met and had the privilege of loving.
The 2019 Peer Pressure Seminar discussed different issues concerning today’s youth. One of the most controversial topics was school-based sex education. Sex education is the process of providing information on sex, sexuality, and reproductive health.
Notwithstanding the evidence-based advantages of sex education among the youth, some people still doubt its importance. Adults, especially parents, are concerned with the possible adverse consequences of sex education on children’s values and behavior. These concerns are commonly a result of misconceptions about sex education in schools. Debunking these myths is essential in promoting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the youth.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about sex education in schools.
- Sex Education Encourages Young People To Become Sexually Active
Many people think sex education means teaching young people to engage in sexual activity. What sex education programs teach is the biology of reproductive organs, among others. It tackles pregnancy and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Sex education does not encourage sexual activity but merely helps young people to make responsible and healthy choices. Additionally, research shows that comprehensive sex education may delay sexual initiation among teens.
- Sex Education Increases The Risk Of Unwanted Pregnancies
The purpose of sex education is to avoid, not to promote, unwanted pregnancies. Knowing about reproduction and safe sex practices helps the youth become more cautious with their choices. The truth is, unintended pregnancies are the result of misinformation and lack of information. Through sex education, young people become more aware of the possible consequences of their actions.
- The School Is Not The Right Place To Talk About Sexual Health
Some people acknowledge the importance of sex education but disagree for it to be taught in schools. For them, teaching sexual health is the sole responsibility of the family. Sex education is not a linear process. It requires the cooperation of the individual, his or her family, and the entire community. Both the family and the school have essential roles to play in promoting sexual and reproductive health among the youth.
School-based sex education does not only help the youth make the right decisions. It also develops and instills the values of responsibility and self-acceptance. We can only achieve these objectives if we debunk the misconceptions about sex education in schools.
“Many people who suffer from sexual abuse or sexual assault can also suffer long-term effects from the abuse,” says John M. Grohol, Psy.D. Going to a shelter for sexually abused teenagers to give counseling for the first time is not easy. You may act and sound friendly, but you’ll be able to tell how hesitant many of them are to greet visitors. It is difficult to listen to them as well while recounting the reasons why they ended up in the facility instead of living a normal life.
Some of these kids, after all, are stowaways who got mixed up with a dangerous crowd. Others were violated in their own homes. If you visit a housing system for girls, there may even be a few who became pregnant at a young age because of sexual abuse.
Despite the sadness that may engulf you, though, you need to get over it so that you can counsel these poor souls. They have to let go of their past before they return to the outside world again. That can only happen if you help them. So here are steps you may take to ensure that you’ll be an effective counselor.
- Earn Their Trust
The truth about sexual abuse cases is that the victims typically know the perpetrators personally. “So often child sexual abuse occurs in families, and in social contexts in which the family knows and trusts the perpetrators,” according to Sharie Stines, Psy.D. It may be a classmate, a family friend, or even a relative who is already welcome in their lives. Thus, once the evil deed takes place, they find it hard to trust another person again.
What you can do to prove that you mean no harm is to open about yourself at first. Keep your distance from the teenager too, especially if you are of the same gender as the violator. More importantly, speak more like a friend than a mental health professional so that the kids don’t feel the need to hide from you.
There’s no way to estimate how long you have to wait before an abused child trusts you. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to tell once it occurs since that’s when the teen starts to smile and talk without prompting.
- Work Out The Negative Effects
In case a sexually abused teen grew up with malicious acts performed on them, there is a possibility that they will try to follow the wrongdoer’s lead and commit the same violations. It was like doing sexual stuff is all they know. Unfortunately, that is true for many teens that were abused over and over.
Once you have earned their trust, therefore, you should start removing the negative behaviors the kids developed because of the violence. It may be tough to make them see reason in the beginning, but you ought to remember that children are born to be smart. After months or years of helping them come to their senses, you will notice an incredible transformation in their character.
- Offer Support
As a counselor, you may have plenty of diplomas and certifications lining your walls. It is likely that you have also read tons of books regarding counseling victims of abuse. However, if you feel worried about treating the underaged ones for the first time, don’t be. You have to recall that they need support more than anything. After all, you cannot take away their ugly past on your own. Your job is to assist the teenagers in changing their thinking patterns so that they’ll be able to figure out how to eliminate their demons. According to psychiatrist Lynn Ponton, MD, “An effective counselor can identify negative thinking patterns that may be feeding feelings of sadness, depression or anxiety.”
It is always better to allow the victims to come up with a solution to their problem themselves than to supply it to them. If they only hear it from you, the words might enter their right ear and exit the left. Considering it comes from their mouth, however, their brain already believes that it will work. Hence, they will focus on genuinely making it work.
In The End
Instead of allowing the children to become dependent on you, you have to teach them how to cope with their issues. You may inform their guardians about it too. This way, even years after your counseling sessions end, the teen won’t relapse and relive the adverse effects of sexual abuse.
Many people say that being a teenager now is more terrifying than ever. For one, there are plenty of adolescent girls who slap makeup products on their faces, to the extent that they look older than a 25-year-old woman. It seems cool that more and more kids can reveal their sexuality without getting ridiculed because of it, but you will also find more of them caring too much about meeting the beauty standards imposed by some adults in the society. Worse, when rebellion or bullying coupled with the failure to get whatever they want, these kids tend to require a consultation with psychologists to help them get through their issues. “When students believed their emotional safety had been violated by remarks they considered to be insufficiently sensitive, they often called for severe punishment of the offending party,” explains Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.5 million kids between the ages of 3 and 17 have behavioral problems. Another set of children (more or less 1.5 million of them, to be specific) has been diagnosed with depression. Then, there are also approximately 4.9 million kids within the same age range who deal with anxiety disorders. Some of the conditions have aggravated due to the poor financial situation of their families, while others have been victims of various forms of abuse.
It is undoubtedly heartbreaking for an individual of any age to learn that millions of children go through such ordeals mainly because of the people around them. Even the teenagers whose heads are where they should be can feel for their same-aged peers who are not as lucky as they may be, family-, academic- or money-wise. Nevertheless, in case you are already 18, and you want your mental health to improve and influence others to do the same, here are a couple of selfless things that you can do this summer.
Join A Philanthropic Mission
It is always during the school break that non-profit organizations hold charity work to help the less fortunate people across the city or state. That gives teenagers such as yourself the opportunity to join a philanthropic mission and avoid entertaining negative thoughts in general. According to Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D., “Engaging in some type of regular volunteer activity on at least a monthly basis, or just spending more time doing loving, kind things for the people in your life, helps get you out of your own head, creates well-being for others, and makes you feel good about yourself.”
In 2016, to be precise, Carlos Miller and Chris Bentley of Palm Beach County, Florida created a not-for-profit project “Live Fresh Palm Beach County” through the grants given by Impact for Palm Beaches and Quantum Foundation, which amounted to US$107,500 in total. This funding allowed the two men to renovate a trailer into a 29.5-ft. shower and personal care space for the homeless folks in the county. The mobile amenity had enough room for six bathrooms, which were complete with walls and doors to allow the individuals to wash up in privacy. They roamed around the Palm Beach zone three times a week at the time and gave the homeless people shower and personal hygiene package, as well as health checkups once every month.
Even now, the Live Fresh project continues to help the less fortunate individuals in their cleansing way. If you can join organizations that do that and more, you’ll be set for life.
Donate Your Blood
From what we learned from our friends at the American Red Cross, any healthy individual above 17 years old can donate blood. The only requirements they ask for are your parents’ consent form and IDs that will prove your age. Physically, you need to ensure that you weigh more than 110 lbs., have no recent tattoos inked on your skin, and have not gone through the blood donation process within the last two months.
Now, if your concern is that you might feel dizzy after donating blood, there are juices that can refresh your blood supply. For starters, you need to shred beetroot (1 kilogram), carrots (1 kilogram), and apples (1 kilogram), squeeze the juice out of four pieces of lemons, stir them well in a big bowl, and then let it sit for 24 hours. Afterward, strain the concoction using a clean cloth or gauze so that you can get all the liquid out and into a new container. Then, mix 250 grams of honey. You can get around 2 liters of beverage from this recipe. By keeping it inside the refrigerator, you will be able to expand its shelf life or share the beverage with your other blood-donating friends.
“Big kids have what are sometimes monumental challenges and problems in a very large and exceedingly complex universe,” says Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. Reaching the age of 18 serves as your rite of passage to do anything you want without your parents being able to stop you. Instead of using this newfound freedom to take part in meaningless activities this summer, though, you should consider doing things that are similar to the two mentioned above to increase your self-esteem and help a lot of people. If you do so, you may not ever need to contact a psychologist in the future.
How will you respond when the most popular boy in school asks you to skip your English class and join them swimming at the beach? How will you react if a group of your friends tells you to skip school for the day and watch a movie with them instead? Will you follow your conscience, or will you listen to them?
Children are often confronted with peer pressure. “So one of the first things we can do is we can help children understand that our culture is full of influence attempts and peers are just another set of forces that are vying for our attention and are vying to shape our behavior,” suggests Brett Laursen, PhD. However, fighting peer pressure can be a lonely and challenging thing to do. Here are twenty tips for resisting peer pressure.