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    Popular behavior determines current social norms

    Popular behavior determines current social norms

    By Malikah Williams

    Teenagers today are experiencing and accepting certain behaviors, such as getting tattoos, piercings, and dressing more expressively and risqué, which in the past were considered taboo or unheard of. The behaviors that these teens are accepting are the social norms of the time.

    “A social norm is an expectation for behaviors that is found in a culture of society, essentially how people are supposed to act, what they should do, and what they should not do,” sociology professor Michael Rutz said.

    The norms of society today are results of what teenagers are exposed to through the vast and easily accessible media sources, which may or may not be a good thing.

    “Being that the media is so uncontrolled, there is no limit on what one can see on the internet, what one can hear in music, or what one can see on television, there are very few limits,” Rutz said.

    Activities are considered more acceptable based on the amount of people doing them.

    “I am okay with [facial piercing and tattoos] because I see them so often that I just adjust to them,” junior Kiera Ortiz said.

    In the last decade, the trend of getting tattoos and piercings has increased exponentially.

    “Piercings are everywhere now,” junior Dorothy Horsley said. “In seventh grade when I got my first piercing everyone thought it was weird, but now everyone has [a piercing].”

    According to a study done by National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in 2000, the rate of teens getting tattoos is 14% with the average age being 16.8 years old.

    “I got my tattoo because it was my birthday and I was getting a special tattoo that I drew myself,” senior Alex Cain said. “[Getting tattoos is] more traditional now when one turns 18 and has freedom to do what one wants.”

    The behaviors that teens exhibit are also dependent upon what their parents believe to be acceptable.

    “Parents are now more lenient with their kids and they just have learned to accept the changes,” Horsley said.

    Parents also acknowledge that they give their children more freedom in deciding what activities they participate in.

    “[I let Kiera] do volunteer work in the community and hang out with large groups of kids,” Kiera’s mother, Karen Ortiz said.

    While some social norms may be acceptable to certain teens today, others norms are not, due to the beliefs or morals of that person.

    “I would never let my surroundings push me to do something drastic like crack or cocaine,” Ortiz said.

    Other teens disregard what is acceptable in society and do what makes them happy.

    “I am out there, I do what I want,” sophomore Gabriel Rivera said. “ I am not embarrassed to get out there and have fun.”

    The social norms of society constantly change over time.

    “When I was in school everybody smoked cigarettes, including me,” guidance counselor Bill Havard said. “It went from being a socially accepted custom to being a social pariah.”
    Not all social norms are viewed as negative by older generations.

    “People [teens] are much more accepting of different sexual preferences, faiths, races, and ethnicity than 20 years ago,” Havard said.

    Social norms may change but the core values tend to stay the same.

    “Values are what a culture deems as good or desirable or even something beautiful in society,” Rutz said. “The basic values of the United States that we see [now], we saw fifty years ago: hard work, a value around the family, and a value of individual responsibility.”

    While these social norms are acceptable to teens and their parents, it does not mean that the norms are correct or even safe.

    “Kids get away with a lot and it also endangers their lives and their futures with some of the things that they are allowed to get away with,” Rutz said. “It has also been seen as a reason to our lagging behind in education and success as a country.”

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    • T

      Trey CarterMar 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      I love the fact that people are doing things to publicly express themselves. Although, some things should be done in moderation. There are ways to express your individuality other than tattoos and piercings.

    • T

      Tessa AllenJan 14, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      I think we as a culture, teens that is, have changed in our own view of what is cool. It was not that long ago that a kid with multiple piercings and/or tattoos was seen as weird and now it is common among the “popular kids.” It is just a change in pop culture.

    • J

      Jessica TaylorJan 2, 2011 at 2:46 pm

      Tattoos and piercings are definitely becoming more common and accepted. I, personally, do not look down upon it or judge the people that do get these things. I have had my ears pierced a few times, but I do not really have a desire to get a tattoo.

    • A

      Alex MartinezDec 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

      I must be living under a rock because I don’t know hardly anybody that has a tattoo, and I haven’t really noticed any difference in social norms in recent years, but I suppose it’s a generational thing. And as for smoking, it may not be as common as it was in our parents’ generation, but from the people I know, it still seems pretty common; it’s just not legal anymore.

    • O

      Olivia TritschlerDec 8, 2010 at 8:04 am

      There have always been people who got tattoos but now it has become more common. Parents still have to sign for a tattoo for minors but it is still surprising to see how many people have one. Personally I don’t think about getting a tattoo, there might be a time when I feel like I want one, but it is also a scary thought to get something put on your skin that will never go away. Some people might not care so much about this, but the heart with a girlfriend/boyfriend’s name is not a good idea because what happens if you break up? The tattoo can’t magically disappear. Also when you get older and get wrinkles the tattoo will start to stretch. It will no longer be the really cool tattoo of your early years. This also applies to when a women gets pregnant.

    • R

      Raya GirardDec 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm

      I think that certain places are more accepting of tattoos and piercing than other places. Like anything else, if you see your parents modeling a certain behavior you will consider that type of behavior normal. Also, a person must consider if a tattoo or piercing will fit in when they grow up and enter a professional work place.

    • J

      Josh ToggerDec 3, 2010 at 8:58 am

      Piercings and tattoos are nothing new. Theyve been around for centuries. However, the rate of teenagers getting them is a scary fact. Kids are getting tattoos and piercings they will regret in the future. They dont seem to understand that tattoos dont go away, and that if they get one they shouldnt get something generic they will hate in a few months.