Things that all teenagers know: they are special, they are indestructible, and no negative, long-term consequences will arise from their immediate behaviour however reckless, bizarre or just plain crazy it might be.
Things that few teenagers know: these curious ideas are the defining features of a psychological concept dubbed the “personal fable”. Fundamental to the fable is a simple belief: “it will never happen to me”. Unfortunately, quite frequently, it will.
When it comes to sex and contraception, this teenage tendency (combined with a lack of proper sex education, misinformation, and foolhardy behaviour) presents major problems, on a global scale, as this year’s World Contraception Day report (Clueless or Clued Up) reveals.
It’s worth reading if you’re young, if you work with young people or in the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) field, or if you just like being scared by reports about rapidly spiralling increases in sexually transmitted infections.
One of the reasons young people said they didn’t use contraception (which I found most striking) was because they think it’s “uncool”: an opinion they might like to re-examine if they contracted a cool condition like chlamydia, or had an unwanted pregnancy. Yeah. Well. Whatever.
The sarcasm’s not meant to be prim or stuffy or anything: there’s a reason we have sex (we like it). But just to be REALLY boring about it, it’d be good if young people (well, anyone in fact) could say “it’ll never happen to me ... if I take the proper precautions”.
Doesn’t quite have the same devil-may-care kind of feel to it, unfortunately.