1. Having sex under the age of 16 with someone older is ILLEGAL
2. Your bodies are simply not ready at that age; there are dangers
Teachers can make pretty persuasive arguments from time to time, and this is a topic they can be very strong about. So why are the rates of underage sex still so high? They tick all the boxes at school in regards to educating us on the dangers and laws, so could it be there is something else at play here?
YES, there most certainly is – pressure. The pressure to have sex, sext and perform sexual acts, which comes from other people at school, the internet & magazines, TV, and even from your friends – is HUGE.
Sexual pressure is not only limited to the pressure that boys place on girls, but also the sexual competition within and between both genders. It doesn’t necessarily equate to someone forcing or coercing you to have sex with them, because sexual pressure comes in many different forms, with many different desirable outcomes. For example, a lot of boys these days ask girls for naked pictures over social media. Boys make relentless attempts to persuade girls to send pictures, and often girls succumb to their wishes. Then, if in the future the guy approaches someone else, they can use the excuse of, ‘Oh such and such did it’, ‘loads of girls do it’, ‘have you seriously never sent a boy a picture before!?’ Simultaneously boys compare with their ‘mates’, who’s received the most pictures, who’s gotten the most blow-jobs, who’s had sex with the most girls etc. etc. etc. (and it really can escalate). Similarly girls casually talk about sending and receiving ‘nudes’ as something conventional and acceptable. Some even screenshot and show their friends which ‘dick pics’ they’ve received in recent days – the normalisation is shocking, and girls that have nothing to share feel ashamed. Sadly it has gotten to the point where even how many naked photos you’ve received or how many guys have asked you for them is a marker of popularity and ‘beauty’.
It is a constant competition, and as one 16-year-old boy rightfully states,
‘Having sex is more of a status among friends rather than an activity that happens between two people.’
Of course not all boys play this game, but the ones that don’t are often teased or eventually pressured to join in – ‘go as far as you can, with as many as you can’ is the rule for many. A 14-year-old girl, when asked if she thought there was a lot of sexual pressure within male friend groups, responded,
‘Most boys are stereotypically labeled as sexually frustrated as they're going through a lot of things and are intrigued to explore. This is not the case however, some guys find sexual pressure a very big problem as 'everyone else is doing it' so they feel the need to. This is hard to avoid when things like bets are being made to see who can 'get laid' first which can often lead to treating girls badly.’
Even those on the tail end of endless picture requests, constant casual yet derogatory comments and expectations higher than the empire state building can see exactly what’s happening behind the scenes for boys – the pressure is obvious. When asked about her experience, another 14-year-old girl spoke on behalf of millions when she said:
‘Every day I would wake up to a message "send me a picture baby" or "tease me baby.” I was horrified, the fact that he thought calling me 'babe' or 'baby' would help - it’s just shocking. He would even send me pictures of his penis and ask me to 'ride him' or even 'blow him'. It's disgusting and it just goes to show that all he wanted was sex. Just to make matters even worse, I didn't even know the boy; I'd never even met him! He was a complete stranger!’
The Internet has proven to be the largest playground for both this kind of derogatory mistreatment, and many other forms of cyber-abuse. Recent studies show that six out of 10 teenagers say they have been asked for sexual images or videos. That is a staggeringly large number, and of those questioned 40% had created a sexual image or video themselves. When online you are presented with endless possibilities, and in the eyes of someone looking for a salacious picture, there are things that being online make a billion times easier, such as:
1. The audience – you can reach absolutely anyone online, super quickly and super easily. Applications like Snapchat, Tinder or Kik Messenger allow instant messaging or sharing with people all over the world in seconds. Of course the danger of this is that it opens up the possibility of people not being who they say they are, and the audience for these kinds of apps or sites is getting younger and younger, in all honesty it is the perfect set up for pedophiles or stalkers.
2. No strings attached – a lot of picture exchanging is done with absolute strangers, without any swapping of names or information. Again this can be dangerous.
3. Shame – of course there is still a lot of abuse that occurs face to face, but nowhere near the kind of things that happen online… Could it be that these boys or girls are hiding behind their phones or computers because they are ashamed of what they’re doing... just playing the game like everyone else?
Sexual pressure for young people has gotten out of hand, and there are VERY few teenagers that enjoy the constant expectation to confide with any request to send a naked photo or perform sexual acts. The competition among the sexes to see who can do what with whom needs to come to an end. Looking at the statistics around sexting, I do wonder where it will go next? What is the next ‘big’ thing? If demand increases and people aren’t getting their way, will it turn violent? Will we see a rise in physical pressure, i.e. rape and sexual assault young person to young person? Something to consider the next time you unlock your phone.
All of the blogs on From Our Eyes have been written by young people. They are about the kind of issues and problems teenagers face on a constant basis, as well as worldwide epidemics that not only youth, but EVERYONE experiences day to day.