Following the crowd has become something of a national pastime.
For image-sensitive high school students it can be an obsession.
The crowd tweets something and we retweet it. (Even if we’ve never checked to see if it’s actually true.) The crowd starts a fashion trend and we feel we’d better wear it too. We want so much to fit in.
Admittedly, following the crowd feels easier than thinking for ourselves. And heaven forbid we should do something different than everybody else. If “everybody’s doing it,” we tend to figure “everybody” must be right. Right?
So if “everybody” in the crowd is hooking up, changing relationships as fast as socks, is the crowd right?
First of all, statistics show “everybody” isn’t “doing it.” (For high school students, for example, only 39.5% have ever had sexual intercourse, according to this recent CDC report.) So that’s one myth busted.
But between the 39.5% who are sexually active and the barrage of media promoting sexual promiscuity, it can still feel like “everybody” is involved.
So, what if you’re one of those people who sees the danger in what the crowd is doing? Maybe you don’t want to just follow them right over the edge of the cliff. What can you do?
Stop Following, Start Leading
Sometimes it starts with just saying no.
No, I don’t believe hooking up is the path to satisfaction in life.
No, I don’t believe I am only valuable if I’m in a relationship.
No, I don’t believe exposing myself to STDs is smart.
No, I don’t want to remain in the dwindling number of sexually active students.
Then it continues with living out what you’ve decided to stand for. Resolve to:
- Do group activities. Interacting with someone you’re interested in can reveal more about them than a one-on-one date.
- Stay public. Remain where others can see you and your significant other. Closed doors and privacy make compromising your values way too easy.
- Avoid being judgmental. State your position on relationships with grace toward those who disagree.
- Remember the risks. Keep in mind the major risks that come with sexual activity: pregnancy, STDs, increased feelings of depression and suicidal desires, and reduced academic success.
- Support like-minded friends: Encourage others who share your views. Talk about the challenges you both face in standing firm when the crowd tugs at you. Share resources you find helpful, like accounts to follow online, activities to engage in, or groups to join. Consider starting your own group!
Speaking of Resources…
Did you know social media can cheer you on in your pursuit of sexual integrity? Consider following some of these accounts:
- National Abstinence Clearinghouse on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Their goal: “to promote healthy relationships and inspire men and women of virtue.”
- For young women of faith, check out Girl Defined on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, where they are “reclaiming God’s design for womanhood.”
- Another account similar to the above: Lies Young Women Believe on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
- If pornography is part of the battle you’re fighting, get help from Covenant Eyes. They’re on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
For some quick reads from us here at Choices, here’s a collection of some of the best articles we’ve written for students like you (and they’re easy to print out for your friends):
On sexual self-control–
Longing for Love: How to Fill Your Heart Without Regrets
Indpendence Day: When You Take Control of Yourself
5 Great Reasons to Be Hard to Get
On healthy relationships—
How to Start Over: Build Better Relationships This Year
Obsession: Is My Relationship Healthy?
Teen Dating Violence: Recognize the Danger Signs
Is Respect Alive and Well in Your Relationship?
On supporting friends in sexual risk avoidance—
Teen Pregnancy: How to Help Your Friend Prevent It
Need more ideas?
Invite the team at Choices Pregnancy Center to talk to your group, school, or church.
We love sharing about the impact healthy sexual choices can make.
Also, stop by our office and pick up some free handouts to encourage you in your pursuit of sexual integrity.