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Mixed MessagesNorms and Social Control around Teen Sex and Pregnancy$
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Stefanie Mollborn

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190633271

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190633271.001.0001

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“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Sexuality Norms and Social Control at Home

(p.62) 3 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Mixed Messages

Stefanie Mollborn

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes teenagers’ perspectives on how their parents and family members convey and enforce norms about teen sex and teen pregnancy. Teens see parents as important communicators and enforcers of teen sexuality norms. Their norms tend to reinforce the normative messages teens are getting from their schools and communities, and the norms are justified using the practical or moral rationale. Parents and teens are motivated to keep silent about actual sexual behaviors, so hypothetical situations, gossip, conspiracies of silence, and cautionary tales are important methods of indirect communication. Parents use emotional and material threats, as well as social control and physical control over the teen’s body and contraceptive options, to try to enforce norms, but nonetheless most teens have sex while they are still in high school.

Keywords:   norm, social control, teen sex, teen sexuality, teen pregnancy, family, parents, conspiracy of silence, cautionary tale, contraception

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