Health Topics

Social Development During the Teen Years: Tattoos, Piercings and Sex

Social Development During the Teen Years: Tattoos, Piercings and Sex

As your child grows into a teenager, he or she may be tempted to make more mature decisions— especially as other teenagers engage in risky behaviors. Tattoos, piercings and sex are all important topics that should be discussed thoroughly with your teen. Some teenagers may be ready for these big experiences, and some may not.

Tattoos and Piercings

Teens of every generation have their fads. Most teenage fads are harmless and eventually fade away without permanent damage. Unfortunately, some of today's most popular fads – particularly tattoos and body piercing – can be permanent and affect your teen's health. Here are some ideas on how to discuss these fads with your teen:

  • Don't wait until your child reaches the teen years to talk about tattoos and piercings. Many younger children look up to teens as role models.
  • Explain the possible dangers of tattoos and piercings, such as infection or allergic reactions. The risk of infection increases if a tattoo or piercing is done under non-sterile conditions.
  • Ask your teen to imagine how multiple piercings or tattoos might affect his or her future career or relationships.
  • Explain that a tattoo may not turn out the way you want, and you can't take it back if you don't like it. Further, tattoo removal is very expensive and can be quite painful. In some cases, tattoo removal may cause permanent discoloration of the skin.

Teens and Sex

Talking with your teenager is important to help him or her develop healthy attitudes toward sex and to learn responsible sexual behavior. Openly discussing sex with your teen also enables you to provide accurate information. After all, teens will learn about sex somewhere. But what they learn might not be true, and might not reflect the personal and moral values and principles you want your children to follow. In addition, teens need to understand the possible consequences of being sexually active – including pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as being emotionally hurt.

When you talk to your teen about sex, focus on the facts. Consider using the following list of topics as an outline:

  • Explanation of anatomy and reproduction in males and females
  • Sexual intercourse and pregnancy
  • Fertility and birth control
  • Other forms of sexual behavior, including oral sex, masturbation and petting
  • Sexual orientation, including heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality
  • The physical and emotional aspects of sex, including the differences between males and females
  • Self-image and peer pressure
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Rape and date rape, including how being intoxicated, accepting rides/going to private places with strangers or acquaintances puts you at risk
  • How choice of clothing and the way you present yourself sends messages to others about your interest in sexual behavior (i.e. tongue piercing, wearing low-cut clothing)