Marked curiosity is one of the characteristic traits of adolescence and along with it goes also experimentation. A healthy curiosity is the beginning of all knowledge and discoveries. This curiosity should be fostered and guided along healthy channels.
The young like to experiment with everything. That’s why knowledgeable parents do not put into their hands new cars or delicate and costly equipment. Learning and experimenting are best done on used equipment because rough handling is natural in learners.
The adolescent is curious about himself, others and the world he is living in. He may get confused by his sudden growth. He becomes also aware of his sexual development and he wonders if he is normal ,if he is like the rest of the world.. So he is eager to read about adolescent development in magazines and journals in some quiet corner.. He is tremendously interested in photographs and revealing pictures. Here is where his curiosity should be guided in a healthy way and he must receive proper orientation from trustworthy persons, like counselors, educators, parents , elders etc. Unfortunately often his information is picked up from popular magazines, cheap books, questionable . films. Pornographic pictures and literature can be a great danger at this age. These can be available with peers who arrange secret shows behind elders and parents’ back and send personal, secret invitations for the show. Many teenagers pick up their information about sexual matters from the media or from peers. The media is often corrupting and exploits sex for commercial gain and picking up values from the media is often a moral disaster because often its values are just money and profit. In fact one needs a lot of media education to benefit from it as well as to guard against its distortions of values.
Peers are not often knowledgeable enough to impart such education . They can be as ignorant and misinformed as you are and they may give you the information you need in a crude manner.. The teenager’s distrust of elders and ready trust in peers can have bad consequences for their healthy growth. But teenagers need to trust elders and educators who have a great interest in their welfare.
Wild unsupervised exclusive teenage parties are a great danger. Things can go out of hand at such parties because the wilder elements often take the upper hand and the others will yield not knowing what is the right thing to be done. A teenager is extremely afraid of ridicule from peers. At teen parties away from home and often in the evening or night many young people are initiated into harmful activities like smoking, drinking, drugs. There is always greater risk at parties clandestinely organized and without adult supervision and curfew hours. Many are introduced to bad habits like alcohol at such parties. Drinks and sex often mix and when one is drunk one never knows what happens next. Girls who are imprudent enough to take drinks will regret too late things that could follow downing a few pegs. It is also possible that unscrupulous teenagers can mix drugs with ordinary cool drinks and wild orgies might follow. Sex is not an object for experimentation or a party game, it is an aspect of intimate love . Hence its sacred character must be respected if lifelong regret over lost virginity is to be prevented.
With a false sense of independence and as a challenge to societal or parental norms teenagers might experiment with sex. Friends may argue that it is the normal thing to do , that everybody does it etc. Here motivated propaganda carries much weight because no teenager wants to be considered outdated and behind the times. The craving for peer acceptance is so great that one will of ten go to great lengths to achieve it. Lust and selfishness can masquerade as fun and camaraderie.
The so called knowledge that comes with loss of innocence is not anything that gives joy or serenity though it might be thrilling. At wild parties there are exploiters and exploited. Smooth talk and sophistries can win lust a field day. The sooner one learns that life is not all thrills the faster one will attain maturity. Innocence can be lost in a moment of frivolity but the joy and freshness that results from keeping oneself as a pure and unsullied gift against one’s day of wedding is a lifelong comfort.. Certain things of life are too delicate for experimenting and we can learn about them second hand just as to know that fire can burn you don’t expose your finger to a burning flame. In medical science a doctor does not expose himself knowingly to some deadly disease to make a close study of it and know its consequences. He studies rather persons affected by it or earlier case studies.
Teenagers are invariably curious about the other sex. This is only natural. In later childhood boys and girls form separate exclusive gangs .Boys at this stage do not like to mix with girls and vice-versa. But as they progress in teenage they say “Good bye Sam, hello Semanta” and find it pleasant to be in mixed company. They have no heterosexual attraction or interest before puberty. If a pre-teen boy is placed in a group of girls in the class he will feel embarrassed and vice-versa. But as he reaches middle teens he would be happy if he is punished in the school to sit among the girls as we read in the stories of Tom Sawyer. Some enterprising boys will even put on bad behaviour to be ‘punished’ in this manner..
Suddenly girls become interesting to boys and pony tails acquire a fascination for them. Enacting Romeo and Juliet style balcony scenes can become thrilling.. Meeting in corners, exchange of secret notes, smuggled letters and messages are symptoms of this age. Girls will spend hours before the mirror and pay great attention to dress and make-up and are interested in catching the eyes of the heroes in the campus This could be the prime thing on their mind as they enter the school campus. Parents may be puzzled by their wards’ sudden interest in ‘project work, library consultation, special classes’ etc. Suddenly they like to spend more hours at school. If they follow their wards to school at a discreet distance they might discover the actual reason for this sudden flurry of teenage ‘academic’ activities.
Of course, it is good and necessary to know how the other half of mankind lives and what interests them. This knowledge is gained best in mixed group activities and projects done under the supervision and guidance of teachers, parents or elders.
For personal reflection
1. Have I got healthy sources from which I can learn right ideas about sex?
2. Which magazines should I avoid reading?
3. Which mixed group can help me grow emotionally?