||Public Displays of Affection
|| Robert Seith | CWK Network Producer
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“I mean you shouldn’t really
be making out in the hallways that’s not what you should be doing
in school. You can do that on your own time.”
16. Who says her school’s rules against public displays of affection
Recently a high school student in the tiny town of Bend, Oregon
made national news when she was suspended for hugging her boyfriend
in the school hallway. School officials and kids don’t always
agree on the rules against public displays of affection.
In hallways, cafeterias or parking lots, there’s hugging,
kissing, and more. Students say they often see public displays
of affection.“I think it’s kind of weird, in
the middle of the hall. Like get a room, you know?” says
But many have no problem with it. “Hugging you know, in
between classes, it’s not really a big deal,” says
Carla, 16. “It’s not doing anyone any harm really,
I don’t think,” adds 16-year-old Jesse.
The problem is, different people will have different opinions
on what is harmless and what isn’t. “You have somebody
holding hands and touching inappropriate body parts as they’re
walking down the hall,” says Paula Bryman, LCSW, “Is
that going to offend somebody else… is that going to make
them late for class… is that going to make them focused
on their boyfriend and not their academics?”
So, to avoid controversy, in most schools the rule is: no public
displays of affection, period. Even an innocent kiss with your
boyfriend… as 17-year-old Polly Matthews found out one day. “I’ve
gotten in trouble before when teachers just told me to like cut
it out in the hallway or something like that,” she says.
Teenagers are exposed to more sexual content than ever in the
media… and many scoff at the rules against displays of affection. “That’s
really none of their business,” says Polly. “If I got
suspended for hugging my girlfriend, that would be ridiculous,” adds
“Is it silly? Maybe. But you know what, when I go to work
I have to follow rules and I don’t like all my rules and
this is sort of part of growing up,” says Bryman.
And she says parents should help their child understand, “It’s
your job to walk into that building and be focused on learning.
Not focused on your boyfriend. Once school is out, get your homework
done, you can focus on the boyfriend.”
|By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
Teenagers who set the sexual boundaries in a relationship may be a
growing trend, according to research based on national surveys of the
sexual habits of teens. The study, published in the American Sociological
Association’s journal Context, reveals that girls are convincing
more boys to prolong sex until they are in a serious relationship. Study
co-author Barbara Risman, a sociologist at North Carolina State University,
says, in addition, that more boys are staying virgins longer.
The study’s findings, based on survey results compiled by
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, included the following
- The percentage of sexually active black teens fell from 81.5
percent to 72.7 percent from 1991 to 1997.
- Among whites, the number declined from 50.1 percent to 43.7
percent; among Latinos, the drop was 53.1 percent to 52.2 percent.
- The number of high school boys under 18 who engaged in sexual
activity dropped 5.7 percent from 1991 to 1997.
- Teen pregnancy rates dropped 17 percent from 1990 to 1996.
- Teen abortion rates dropped 16 percent from 1990 to 1995.
So why are more teens waiting longer to have sex? Some experts
believe they are becoming increasingly aware of the risks involved
in sexual activity – including pregnancy and sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs) – due to abstinence campaigns and a surge in
positive messages about self-esteem. The U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services cites these additional statistics and facts that
may help curb teenage sexual activity:
- More than 1 million teens become pregnant each year.
- Young girls have more problems during pregnancy.
- Babies of young, teen mothers are more likely to be born with
serious health problems.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at epidemic levels.
- Some STDs are incurable. They may cause pain, sterility or sometimes
|By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
While it is important to talk with children about sex and sexuality,
parents are often unsure of how to begin such open communication. Children
Now and the Kaiser Family Foundation offer these tips for having a positive
conversation with your child about sexual relationships and where, how
and why to draw limits:
- Explore your own attitudes – Studies show that children
who feel they can talk with their parents about sex are less likely
to engage in high-risk behavior as teens than children who do not
feel they can talk with their parents about the subject. Explore
your own feelings about sex. If you are very uncomfortable with
the subject, read some books and discuss your feelings with a trusted
friend, relative, physician or clergy member. The more you examine
the subject, the more confident you’ll feel discussing
- Start early – Teaching your child about sex demands
a gentle, continuous flow of information that should begin as
early as possible. As your child grows, you can continue his
or her education by adding more materials gradually until he
or she understands the subject well.
- Take the initiative – If your child hasn’t started
asking questions about sex, look for a good opportunity to bring
- Talk about more than the “birds and the bees” – While
children need to know the biological facts about sex, they also
need to understand that sexual relationships involve caring,
concern and responsibility. By discussing the emotional aspect
of a sexual relationship with your child, he or she will be better
informed to make decisions later on and to resist peer pressure.
- Give accurate, age-appropriate information – Talk about
sex in a way that fits the age and stage of your child.
- Communicate your values – It’s your responsibility
to let your child know your values about sex. Although he or
she may not adopt these values as he or she matures, at least
your child will be aware of them as he or she struggles to figure
out how he or she feels and wants to behave.
- Relax – Don’t worry about knowing all of the answers
to your child’s questions. What you know is a lot less important
than how you respond. If you can convey the message that no subject,
including sex, is forbidden in your home, you’ll be doing
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), teens who
have high self-esteem and self-respect make more responsible health
choices. As a parent, you can help your teen develop respect in
the following ways:
- Allow your teen to voice opinions.
- Allow your teen to be involved in family decisions.
- Listen to your teen’s opinions and feelings.
- Help your teen set realistic goals.
- Show faith in your teen’s ability to reach those goals.
- Give unconditional love.
Whether your child is thinking about having sex or engaging in
other risky behaviors, you can take steps to help him or her make
an informed decision. By following these tips from the AMA, your
child will realize that you want to help:
- Allow your teen to describe the problem or situation – Ask
how he or she feels about the problem. Ask questions that avoid “yes” or “no” responses.
These usually begin with “how,” “why” or “what.” Really
listen to what your teen is saying, instead of thinking about
your response. Try to put yourself in your teen’s shoes
to understand his or her thoughts.
- Talk with your teen about choices – Teens sometimes
believe they don’t have choices. Help your teen to see
- Help your teen to identify and compare the possible
consequences of all of the choices – Ask your teen
to consider how the results of the decision will affect his or
her goals. Explain (without lecturing) the consequences of different
American Medical Association
American Sociological Association
Kaiser Family Foundation
U.S. Department of Health and Human