There is a new breed of problems being seen in schools, mental health clinics and churches across the country—teen sexual addiction. Today’s teens are bombarded with sexual explicit content like no previous generation. In our increasingly sexualized society, parents are placed in the difficult position of seeking professional help for a child struggling with a sexual behavior issue. These issues can range from addiction to internet pornography, to attempts to “hook-up” with adults they met on-line, to illegal sexual outing out with a younger sibling. The accessibility and potency of internet pornography results in higher numbers of teens finding themselves addicted and unable to break free. Additionally, the ease of finding sexual “hook ups” via the internet has never been easier. Numerous apps now allow a teen to enter their location and find willing sexual partners wherever they are. Sexual curiosity and lack of impulse control lead some teens to act out sexually with a younger siblings leading to a sexual offense and legal problems.
Finding professional help for teen sexual behavior problems can be a challenge, namely because few programs currently exist. If you have concerns about your child’s sexual behaviors, don’t hesitate, but seek professional help immediately. Research suggests that problematic sexual behavior first manifests during the adolescent years, but most don’t get help until later in life after the problems have become severe. Do not ignore problematic sexual behavior in children and teens as the long-term consequences can be devastating.
Research also suggests that teens with problematic sexual behaviors who participate in treatment, learn to manage their problems and don’t re-offend. Early intervention is always the right move when it comes to teen sexual problems. The earlier in life that a young person can learn to manage sexual urges and behaviors, the greater the likelihood for their achieving a happy and fulfilling life.
Some parents ask, when does normal teen sexual curiosity cross the line into behavior that requires intensive treatment? Listed below are four examples.
Example—15 year-old boy who has been viewing porn on a daily basis since age 11 moves into using a fake profile as an attractive adult woman in social media to solicit adult men into highly sexualized chats involving plans to begin hooking up in person. When confronted by parents, the youth consistently denies it, yet the behaviors continue leading to escalating family conflicts.
Example—16 year-old boy who is addicted to porn compiles a collection of “explicit selfies” of girls who he has coerced to engage with him in sexting sessions. He begins placing the images on revenge porn websites and using the images to blackmail the girls.
Example—17 year-old addicted to pornography since the age 13 unable to break free from the addiction on his own and even with extended outpatient treatment his longest period of ten days of abstinence before falling back into the addiction. He is experiencing depression, feelings of failure and self-loathing which is leading to school failure and social isolation.
Example—14 year-old addicted to pornography who despite repeated efforts by his parents to limit has access to porn continues to find ways, including theft, to obtain electronic devices to access the internet to view porn. He is unwilling to discuss the issue with his parents and refuses to attend or participate in counseling services.
These four examples are based on true-to-life scenarios and similar situations occur daily in our highly sexualized, technology driven society and unfortunately will become more common place with the rising generation. If you have a child struggling with pornography addiction or compulsive on-line sexual behaviors, contact us today at 800.584.4629 for help!
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.