Ross Olson's Web Site

Social Issues: Chastity


I take the opportunity of the 12 year physical to give the following talk. It can be done with or without the parent present and is accompanied by varying amounts of response from the kids. It is used in a modified form at 15 or 18. Parents may use this as a basis for discussion.

Do any kids at your school smoke? Any of your friends? Now days, most people know that it is not a good idea. Most adults who smoke are trying to quit or at least wishing they had never started. (In the exam room, most parents who smoke will nod their agreement.)

The amazing thing is that there are still kids who start smoking. It happens a lot in junior high and high school. Many do it because they think it is the cool thing to do. By the time they know it isn't, they are hooked and will be a good customer for a long time. Now, maybe, the cigarette companies will have to help pay your medical bills, but that isn't much comfort if you can't breathe.

Now, I think you are too smart to ever smoke, but you can learn from this that are there are people around who want to sell you things and tell you things who don't really care about you. Also: YOU ARE NOW OLD ENOUGH TO TOTALLY MESS UP YOUR LIFE!

Just as it is easy to fall down when walking or running, it is easy to go wrong in life. Just forget to pay attention and you might trip and fall. It takes effort to avoid falling. This is why it is important to understand the pressures and dangers you will face over the next few years.

One thing that happens is peer pressure. It gets real important for some kids to be like the crowd. It happens a lot in 6th or 7th grade because everybody feels sort of weird. You start growing fast, your body is changing, you're growing up and you sort of don't know yourself anymore. You feel like you want to hide. "Oh, no! I'm weird!"

A lot of kids look around to see what the crowd is doing and do the same, so they blend in. That is why styles go through schools and you sometimes get the feeling that if you don't have the right label on your jeans, your life is ruined.

After a while, you begin to realize that maybe it isn't all that important to have exactly the right label, and in fact, might be a waste of money even though it won't usually kill you. But sometimes, following the crowd can really hurt, if they are smoking or drinking or doing drugs.

It is interesting that a group of kids often have less sense than any one of them on their own. It is what I call, "Two heads are thicker than one." Sometimes a bunch of kids will be sitting around wondering what to do and somebody says, "Let's go steal something at the Mall." Or, "Lets go break some windows at the vacant house." Or, "Let's borrow the neighbor's car."

Most kids are probably thinking, "This is not a good idea." But it is amazing how many will go along with it because they are afraid of being called "chicken."

And if just one of them would say, "I don't think we should do this!" probably many others would say, "You're right, let's not." Most people are followers, not leaders. That's why it is so important to stick up for what's right. I bet you wouldn't jump off a cliff just because you friends were doing it... unless you found a bungee cord.

Another thing that happens around this age is that your parents get real stupid. (Kids may giggle or look puzzled at this point. Parents may squirm or make further wisecracks.)

Remember when your parents could answer any question? Why is the sky blue? Why does the sun come up? Where is my other sock? Then one day, you realize that their IQ's have dropped down to the level of earthworms and salamanders, just barely making it. But stick with them, it is a form of temporary brain damage caused by kids. Their brains will come back after they get rid of you.

No, actually what is happening is that as you get older, you want to think for yourself and make your own decisions. You begin to question what you have been told. Since parents tell you a lot, you question them a lot.

Some kids feel that they have to disagree with everything their parents say just to prove that they are thinking, which turns out to not be a very good idea. They couldn't possibly be wrong all the time. As someone said, "Even a stopped clock is right once or twice a day." And you'll find out that your parents were almost always right. But it is good to use that thinking ability you get as you grow older to really think about the things that you are learning because there are so many bad ideas floating around and the crowd is often wrong.

Think about beer commercials on TV. What do they show? Cool people, great times, nothing bad ever happens. They don't even throw up. Is it real life? Not quite.

It is true that some people drink and don't seem to have a problem but about one out of five or six who start drinking end up messing up their life, or somebody else's life. And they didn't know that ahead of time. They become an alcoholic or a drunk driver or do something else incredibly stupid while they are drunk.

It is sad and scary to me that even though drinking is illegal for teenagers, drunk driving is still a major killer of teenagers. That means a lot of kids are drinking, and then doing dumb things. Somebody might say, "Just have a couple drinks and that's all." The trouble is, you may not know what you are going to do next.

Some people may even try to get others drunk so they can take advantage of them sexually. Every year a few teenagers die because after a few drinks they decide to have a "chug-a-lug contest" and go into a coma and never wake up. Some decide to pick a fight with somebody who happens to have a gun.

Another bad idea floating around is about violence. It seems that every TV show and movie is full of violence. I think it is because the writers are not creative enough to come up with good stories and want to get an audience excited for cheap.

Some kids say, "It's OK. It doesn't bother me." But that is actually part of the problem. Violence should bother us! But if we see too much, we stop feeling. That is called being "desensitized." It is as if the mind puts up a protective barrier and we stop noticing how terrible it is.

The main danger is that in real life, in a moment of anger, we may act out what we have seen on the screen and not realize how awful it is. Some people are almost addicted to violence. They want to see more and more violent stuff because the mild does not touch them any more. But there are lots of good things to put in your mind. You don't need to eat garbage.

Another area where there is bad information going around is about sex. Movies and TV make it look like, if two people are attracted, they can go to bed and have sex and that is fine. But it isn't fine and there are all sorts of reasons why. I'm sure you know about this.

Diseases spread that way. AIDS is the worst because it is deadly, but there are over 20 others, many of them spreading through the teenage population. Many teenagers have those diseases and don't even know it.

Babies happen, too. Babies are wonderful, but not for teenagers. Some people think that condoms will make you safe but that is not true. They reduce the risk but fail to prevent pregnancies in about 18% of teenagers who use them for a year. They do about the same for AIDS and that's a terrible risk.

But even if you could prevent diseases and babies, what happens for sure is that it spoils something that is supposed to be very special. Sex is wonderful. It is very pleasurable, very habit forming and very bonding between people. It makes people want to be together. It is intended to be shared between people who are totally committed to each other and can completely trust each other.

That's why when you fall in love, you feel like, "I want to be with this person for ever." Of course, feelings may be tricky and you may think you fall in love twice a week for two years with someone different each time and none of them may be the right one for you.

If you like someone, you need to find out, "Is this someone I want to spend my whole life with?" You need to really get to know them and make a wise choice. That means to get married and stay married. It doesn't always work out that way, but it is the ideal. It is the healthiest physically and mentally, too.

If you are having sex with someone, you don't keep your head on straight and don't notice all the qualities that will be most important in the long run. And if someone says, "Prove you love me and do this," you can cross them off your list. They don't love you, just themselves.

Well, I just wanted to give you a few lectures to put you to sleep so you don't feel your shots. Did it work?

Ross S. Olson MD

Send comments to me at ross{at}

The URL for this document is