Category Archives: For spouses & parents

Legal questions still not settled about cyberbullying

This isn’t about sexuality per se, but it’s sort of a related issue, and is big for teenagers, parents, and schools. I’m right now putting material together for a presentation for parents about helping their kids deal with sexual struggles, so I’m coming across lots of interesting stuff related to teenagers, sex, and the online world.

Wired magazine online has an interesting article about the legal issues surrounding cyber-bullying and the kinds of things kids post in social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. When kids post hateful content online, what are the legal ramifications? The picture here is of a former Florida high school student who was suspended for cyberbullying her teacher (creating a Facebook group asking other students to express their feelings of hatred towards a this teacher). Yes, I agree: not very nice. She is now suing the school principal. It gets complicated, but it’s interesting.

Q & A: Raising kids in a sexualized society

As a follow up to the last post about teen sexuality, I found this great Q and A article on MSN’s site. In it, the authors of ‘So Sexy So Soon’ answer questions on protecting your kidsRead on:

The authors of the book “So Sexy So Soon,” Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne, answer questions about how today’s sexualized culture affects kids as young as 7 years old, and they offer tips on how parents can address this with their children.

Q: Hasn’t the “sex sells” mantra in advertising been around for a long time? Why is it a particularly important issue nowadays?

A: Although it is true that sex has been used to sell products for a very long time, the sexual images these days are far more graphic and pornographic than ever before. Sexual images are also used to target younger and younger children, and we are seeing the harmful results in their behavior.

Q: You say the “sexualization of childhood” affects boys, as well as girls, negatively. Can you expand on this?

A: Boys learn to see girls as objects and judge and value them by how they look and how “sexy” they are. And boys are taught to conform to a very narrow definition of masculinity — being tough and invulnerable and aggressive. This can make it very difficult for boys to become men capable of having positive, caring, and connected relationships. This is a very high price to pay.

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New survey results confirm increase in teen sexual activity

Former model-turned TV talk show host Tyra Banks has done some research for a recent show about teen sexuality. This past summer, over 10,000 teens took part in an anonymous survey that revealed disturbing trends, and confirms other research in this field. Here are some highlights, culled from an article on the Today Show website (Banks was interviewed about this study on a recent episode of the show.) Parents, brace yourselves:

  • On average, girls are losing their virginity at 15 years of age.
  • 14 percent of teens who are having sex say they’re doing it at school.
  • 52 percent of survey respondents say they do not use protection when having sex.
  • One in three says she fears having a sexually transmitted disease.
  • 24 percent of teens with STDs say they still have unprotected sex.
  • One in five girls says she wants to be a teen mom.

Here’s an exerpt from the article:

Dr. Elizabeth Schroeder, executive director of Answer, a teen sex education program based at Rutgers University, said the survey results sound plausible and are consistent with other research on teen sexuality.

“This so clearly points to the need for comprehensive sexual education for kids,” Schroeder said. “An adolescent … is supposed to be making poor decisions. Developmentally this is the way they’re supposed to be behaving. They need help …. Parents need help talking with their kids about sexuality, and schools need to be talking to kids about sexuality.”

Banks told Lauer [on the Today Show episode] that this kind of communication simply isn’t happening for many teens.

“They are not talking to their parents; they’re embarrassed to talk to their parents,” Banks said. “And more than them being embarrassed to talk to their parents, their parents are embarrassed to talk to them. So they’re finding all [about] sex education with their friends, with their peers.”

And, I might add, from pornography. The challenge of hyper-sexualized teen culture is growing. There is a great need for teaching about sexual sanity for teenagers. Stay tuned to this website for more information about upcoming seminars about this topic.

Melody Beattie on Codependency

Codependency is a huge issue for people in recovery from compulsive sexual behavior. While much discussion in the past has centered around how the spouse or partner of an addict is codependent (in that they put up with behaviors and do other things that subtly enable the addiction to continue), my observation is that most addicts are codependent as well. In fact, my colleague Mark Laaser contends that he has yet to meet a married sex addict who is not codependent!

Codependency is sometimes misunderstood, and frequently means different things to different people. I like the way wikipedia describes it: A “codependent” is loosely defined as someone who exhibits too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on him or her. A “codependent” is one side of a relationship between mutually needy people. The dependent, or obviously needy party(s) may have emotional, physical, financial difficulties, or addictions they seemingly are unable to surmount. The “codependent” party exhibits behaviour which controls, makes excuses for, pities, and takes other actions to perpetuate the obviously needy party’s condition, because of their desire to be needed and fear of doing anything that would change the relationship.

I would highlight the concept of fear. Codependency arises out of insecurity and neediness, and renders us incapable of being fully honest (confronting someone might cause them to dislike or leave us, and we can’t bear that thought). It also keeps us in perpetual rescuer mode — we fear what might happen to the person if we don’t help them out.

Continue reading Melody Beattie on Codependency

HOLDING HOPE: a telephone seminar for partners, parents, and friends of people struggling with compulsive sexual behavior

Holding HopeThis February I am offering a four-part telephone seminar for spouses, friends, and parents of people struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors. I keep hearing that more help is needed, not just for sex addicts, but also for the people who love them — the wives, children, parents, and friends in addicts’ lives who are hurt, angry, anxious, and struggling to know how to help. Sexual compulsivity undermines marriages and families like no other addiction, and tragically, most spouses and family members suffer alone. Sex addiction carries its own unique and powerful shame, and many people don’t know where to turn for help and support.

Some specifics about the teleseminar:

Dates: Wednesdays in February (the 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th)

Continue reading HOLDING HOPE: a telephone seminar for partners, parents, and friends of people struggling with compulsive sexual behavior

Sexual Misconduct in Our Schools — And What to Do

Teachers in trouble

The postcard above is one recieved by Frank Thomas for his Postsecret project (he asked people to send him a secret from their lives on a 3×5 postcard). He hasn’t used it on the Postsecret site yet – maybe it’s too controversial. Nobody likes to talk about sex abuse in schools, which is what this is. We better start not only talking about it, but doing something, because it’s a growing problem.

The AP recently ran a story that emerged from a seven-month study they conducted. After researching K-12 schools in every state in the US, they found 2,570 cases of sexual misconduct in the years from 2001 to 2005. Keep in mind that behind each of these 2,570 cases is a traumatized person — and usually more than one. It seems that many of these cases were the result of sexually inappropriate conduct perpetrated against numerous victims. The article does a good job of telling some of the stories, which helps put a human face on these cases.

The article also mentions a report mandated by Congress on this subject. This report estimated that as many as 4.5 million students, out of roughly 50 million in American schools, are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade. (That figure includes verbal harassment that is sexual in nature.) Put another way, this means that nearly 1 out of 10 students will be subject to sexual misconduct by a member of school staff. Continue reading Sexual Misconduct in Our Schools — And What to Do

Interview: How much sex is too much?

George Collins is a counselor in the San Francisco Bay area who has been in practice since 1995, working with sex addicts. Here are some excerpts from an interview with him, published in The Metro (a Bay area newspaper). I’m including this because I think he’s got some good things to say, and anyone with his experience is worth listening to. Enjoy:

Loren Stein (interviewer): How does someone know if they have a sexual addiction? Or in other words, how much sex is too much sex?

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How to spot the difference between a healthy sex drive and dependence / addiction

How can you tell if someone has a problem with sexual behavior? Sometimes peoples’ defense is simply that “I just have a strong sex drive.” Where is the line between a healthy sex drive, and addictive behavior? What follows is a list of criteria from Dr. Pat Carnes’ web site “Sexhelp.com,” with some edits and clarifiers from me.

While an actual diagnosis for sexual addiction should be carried out by a mental health professional, the following behavior patterns can indicate the presence of sexual addiction. Individuals who see any of these patterns in their own life, or in the life of someone they care about, should seek professional help.

1. The person exhibits a pattern of out-of-control sexual behavior

Continue reading How to spot the difference between a healthy sex drive and dependence / addiction