The controversy surrounding the appropriateness of masturbation is a long-disputed topic among treatment professionals who work with youth struggling with compulsive sexual behavior problems.
Some professionals, particularly those who work in the arena of sexual offending behaviors, endorse masturbation so long as it does not involve the use of deviant fantasies and even go so far as to suggest masturbation to “appropriate” sexual fantasies as a technique for managing sexual urges. Some treatment professionals criticize the “abstinence” approach for creating excessive guilt, shame and sexual repression in teens.
However, this philosophy interferes with the belief system of families whose religious views discourage masturbation. Various religions teach that youth should strive to avoid or eliminate all pre-marital sexual behaviors including masturbation. The idea behind this approach is that youth who strive to abstain from masturbation, use of pornography and pre-marital sex can achieve a happy life, based on moral principles. The approach expects youth to develop self-discipline and reverence and respect for their procreative powers rather than using them to pleasure themselves.
For many teens masturbation is an activity that accompanies viewing pornography. Now more than ever, teens are dealing with the phenomena of online pornography. Internet porn creates a state of hyper-stimulation in teens, provides constant novelty, is highly accessible, costs nothing, and can be used in secrecy. With more teens than ever viewing porn and masturbating, this once again brings to light the debate about the appropriateness of masturbation.
An on-line community of teens and young adults known on the Reddit website called “NoFap” is a support group for those who have chosen to abstain from masturbating. The group has grown to 73,000, with 4,000 joining in the past month alone – over 140 each day. Members of this group have chosen to eliminate masturbation for a variety of reasons, including:
They believe their masturbation is causing undesirable psychological effects, such as depression and social anxiety
They feel it’s sabotaging their chances of finding a partner
They feel masturbation is compromising the quality of sex in their current relationship
They feel their masturbation or porn use represents an undesirable lack of self control
See the infographic created by the NoFap group for highly informative findings about the negative impact that porn and masturbation are causing among teens and young adults.
Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.