61% of year 12 girls have had sex

A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald looked at the secret lives of teenager girls; what they get up to when they are out on the town. For many parents it must have been a stomach churning read.

OK everyone was young once, but the lines of what is and is not acceptable behaviour are now very blurred, with many teenage girls indulging in binge drinking and casual sex at a rate never seen before. Added to this is the way they happily document these events on social media sites such as Facebook.

In the past this behaviour would have been condemned as sluttish and been carried out in secrecy in case parents or other responsible adults found out. Today however, such antics are displayed for the whole world to see and are viewed as trophies that make a ‘great night out’.

One young girl said “For some, the photos on Facebook are even more important than enjoying the night itself.”

Maggie Hamilton, author of What’s Happning to our Girls? and a Generation Next speaker says “Increasingly sex between teens is casual and random. Aided by the growth in early drug and alcohol use, the constraints a girl would normally contemplate before having sex is being eroded.”

But where is all this debauched and booze induced lifestyle taking young girls? They live in a hyper sexualised world where ‘raunch culture’ is the norm. Is this making stable grounded young women who are ready to go out and take their place in society?

There’s is a world of “pornification” and “sexualisation” and it is affecting girls younger and younger. “I mourn for the women of today,” says author and Right2Childhood speaker Melinda Tankard Reist. “We need well-rounded citizens and girls aren’t getting that opportunity. They think they’ll attract success and attention through sexual allure.”

What are the mental and physical costs of this sort of lifestyle? Research shows that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol during teenager years can lead to higher rates of depression and anxiety in adulthood.

“It makes for a fragile self-esteem if you derive self-worth from preening and … brief encounters on a dance floor with men who only admire you for your sexuality,” says UTS psychologist Louise Remond.

On an average Saturday night in Sydney St Vincent’s Hospital will treat 100 young women who have alcohol and drug related injuries.

The statistics for the drinking habits of teenagers is frightening; 15 to 18-year-olds have the highest rate of hospital admissions for drunkenness with over 30% of 18 year olds drinking at a high-risk level. For young women, the risk of being admitted to hospital with alcohol-related liver disease has steadily increased in the past decade.

Gordian Fulde, the director of emergency medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital says “The problem is just enormous.  Of course, there are an awful lot of girls sitting at home doing homework but when they let it rip, they really let it rip. And these days, if a girl goes out and gets trashed and vomits, maybe even ends up in emergency, they freak out at the time but you can see that they’re getting a badge of honour. The next day the photos will go up on Facebook.”

“I find that all my best nights out are when I’m hammered … I dunno, you just don’t worry about anything,” says one girl.

Theirs is a world littered with jargon which would shock most parents. Their casual attitudes to sex would deliver the death blow to any father who harbours fantasies of protecting his daughter from over amorous young men.

An average night out would be described like this; first the girls pre-load (drink while getting ready out). Then it’s all LOL, DTF (down to f… new say to say whether a girl will put out or not), wet pussy alcohol, drugs and f… buddies (friends who have no-strings-attached sex).  Or if the girl is feeling adventurous she will indulge in randoming (casual sex with a total stranger she takes a fancy to).

Many teenage girls describe their attitude to sex as “non-judgmental”. It is often casual and a way of being accepted rather than being about feelings or relationships.

In the Sydney Morning Herald article a girl says “If you went home with a guy and didn’t sleep with him, he’ll tell all his friends what a bitch you are but if you sleep with him, he might be like, ‘Oh, what a slut. I’d prefer to sleep with him so the guy would be happy rather than have him tell everyone I was a bitch. I don’t feel used. It’s just a normal thing.” Another adds “It’s just sex; to us it doesn’t mean anything.”

Paul Dillon, author of Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs and a Generation Next speaker says that experts are now learning more about the impact of alcohol on the developing teenage brain. He says “But now we’re learning more about some pretty significant brain-development stuff. I’ve been standing there [in schools] practically in tears, looking at the sea of beautiful young women who have no idea what they’re doing to themselves every weekend. Yes, it’s just a phase for most of them but it’s a phase that is beginning much earlier — they’re patterns of drinking we’ve never seen before.”

A report published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health in 2010 found that in the decade to 2008, 27% of year 12 girls had had sex with 3 partners or more. They said the effects of drugs or alcohol were the reason.

“To look at young women’s drinking, we’ve got to look at our own drinking,” says Paul Dillon, who worries that parents’ sense of invulnerability is similar to their daughters’. And perhaps parents — the main source of alcohol for teenagers — need to learn to say “no”.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: They Sydney Morning Herald (life matters)