Issues of sex related problems among Adolescent in India
Adolescent all over the world experience sex-related problems. In India too, they are remarkable in their similarity. The cause could vary from country to country. For example, while in the USA there is a teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancy every three seconds and a sexually transmitted disease every 13 seconds, in India most of the pregnancies occur within marriage and no statistics on sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents are available. It is considered to be high and perhaps equal to the USA figures.
WHO identifies adolescence as the period in human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood, from ages 10 to19. It represents one of the critical transitions in the life span and is characterized by a tremendous pace in growth and change that is second only to that of infancy. Biological processes drive many aspects of this growth and development, with the onset of puberty marking the passage from childhood to adolescence. The biological determinants of adolescence are fairly universal; however, the duration and defining characteristics of this period may vary across time, cultures, and socioeconomic situations. This period has seen many changes over the past century namely the earlier onset of puberty, later age of marriage, urbanization, global communication, and changing sexual attitudes and behaviors. Adolescence can be subdivided into two parts - i) Early adolescence (12/13 - 16/17 years) ii) Late adolescence (17 years to 18/19 years). Adolescents, aged between 10-19 years, account for more than one-fifth of the world’s population.
The process of adolescence is a period of preparation for adulthood during which time several key developmental experiences occur. Besides physical and sexual maturation, these experiences include movement toward social and economic independence, and development of identity, the acquisition of skills needed to carry out adult relationships and roles, and the capacity for abstract reasoning. While adolescence is a time of tremendous growth and potential, it is also a time of considerable risk during which social contexts exert powerful influences.
Physical changes causing Sexual Problems:
Almost any of the physical changes occurring during adolescent can cause concern to the boy or the girl. The onset of puberty gives the physical excitement never experienced before. The adolescent reacting to these experiences is excited, often without realizing what is happening to him. Some react with pleasure or excitement and some others experience shame, disgust, confusions, anxiety and guilt. They may lead to sexual maladjustment.
Some Physical Changed during Adolescent:
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Also, sexual urges can be so strong in the male adolescent that he tends to seek gratification at a purely physical level. Sex at this point exists for pleasure and is often not associated with emotion or love. The female adolescent’s sexual drive is less at a physical level and she tends, from the earliest awakening of her sexuality, to associate sex with romantic situations. She dresses to attract and seek emotional companionship and looks for someone to love. While men in the early part of adolescence learn the mechanics and styles of sex, and in the end learn to combine their sexual concepts with the love. The opposite process occurs with women. The sex instinct which had been lying dormant during childhood is reawakened. In the adolescence stage the young adolescent repeats 3 stages of sexual development –
a) Auto – eroticism: the adolescent takes interest in his own body and he/she handles his own sex organs.
b) Homo-sexuality: during the early period of adolescence boys love to mix with boys and girls with girls.
c) Hetero – sexuality: this type of sexuality is found at the later stage of adolescence.
Hetero-sexuality is another important characteristic of the adolescents. It means the attraction for the opposite sex. Both the sexes develop greater interest for the opposite sex. Adolescents become very much eager to know about the opposite sex. But unfortunately the knowledge which they receive may be harmful for their mental and physical health.
Emerging trends in India
In India, this age group forms 21.4 percent of the total population (National Youth Policy 2000). Characterized by distinct physical and social changes, the separate health, education, economic and employment needs of adolescents cannot be ignored. In India there is a resistance to the concept of ‘adolescence’ , if it is understood, as in the West, as an extended period of education and training for adult roles. The experience of such a phase is limited in the Indian context. This may be explained by factors such as a delay in the onset of puberty (due to poor nutritional status) and prevalence of early marriage (signifying adulthood). It may further be argued that in India the generation gap cited in the West does not exist. However with the changing economic and social profile, generational differences in India are becoming increasingly important. The association of adolescence with sexuality is another factor which increases resistance to the concept, particularly in regard to female adolescence (Greene 1997). However, if adolescence is viewed in terms of shifts in “dependency to autonomy, social responses to physical maturity, the management of sexuality, the acquisition of skills, and changes in peer groupings” (Greene 1997), then the notion that adolescence is a social stage that occurs only in developed nations must be discarded.
Aside from these objections to the relevance of the concept of adolescence to the Indian scenario, it is also arguable whether the term itself is valid. Adolescents are generally perceived as a homogenous group, yet they can be stratified on the basis of gender, caste, class, geographical location (urban/rural) and religion. Adolescents also include a whole gamut of categories: school and non-school going, drop-outs, sexually exploited children, working adolescents – both paid and unpaid, unmarried adolescents as also married males and females with experience of motherhood and fatherhood (MOHFW, Country Paper, 1998).