Stop sexualizing teenagers


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The oversexualization of teenagers in the media is concerning at the least and downright predatory at the worst.

Around 70% of reported sexual assault cases involve victims under the age of 18.

Although most people would agree that sexualizing anyone underage is wrong, the line starts to blur when it comes to mass media. In many teen television series, for instance, like “Riverdale,” and “Gossip Girl,” teenagers are portrayed as if they were adults. They engage in sexual activity with those much older than them, do drugs, take part in illegal ventures, and seem to have extremely minimal parental supervision, if any at all.

While it is important to address the fact that many teenagers tend to rebel and do dangerous activities, their portrayal in the media is still highly problematic due to the glorification of disturbing behavior often present. Take, for instance, the teacher-student relationship trope. Popularized in shows like “Pretty Little Liars,” this cliche usually involves the romanticization of an older adult taking advantage of an underage student. Another concerning pattern in teenage media is the condemnation of virginity. There are entire movies centered around underage teenagers attempting to have sex, which can make real teenagers feel as if they are at fault for not being “grown-up” enough.

It is perfectly fine and even normal to date or to explore your sexuality while you are in high school, but the obsession that the media has with teenagers in this regard is concerning. If you go on Netflix, there are no shortages of extremely graphic sex scenes depicting what are supposed to be high schoolers. While the actors and actresses who play these teens are adults, it still doesn’t change the fact that the characters are supposed to be fifteen or sixteen years old. It’s alright for movies and shows to depict the less innocent side of adolescence but not to such an unnecessarily explicit and over glamorized degree. Most high school students aren’t even sexually active.

Junior Albert Huynh said, “In high school, I guess people start expecting you to start dating and to do all these crazy things, but most of the time, I still feel like a kid playing video games.”

The over-sexualization of teenagers is not just limited to fictional media. Real teenagers, especially famous ones, are often the victims of distressing behavior. One-third of teenage girls have even been sexually harassed online. As an example, Billie Eilish became the top search on a pornography site on her 18th birthday. People were creating countdowns to when she would reach legal age when she was still only 17 years old. Society’s obsession with those who are “barely legal” is borderline predatory.

Sophomore Isabel Ortega said, “At the end of the day, these are young folks, and they need to be protected.” Teenagers are not adults, and the current way that they are being sexualized is extremely unacceptable.