teenagers

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Dear Urban Diplomat: should I tell my new husband that his teen daughter’s on the Pill?

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I recently married a man who has a 15-year-old daughter, and I accidentally discovered she’s on the Pill. Her dad would be apoplectic if he knew. She begged me not to tell him and said she’d never forgive me if he found out. What should I do?

—Contraception Interception, Bennington Heights

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Fetal Position: inside the world of Lia Mills, the 16-year-old leader of a new generation of anti-abortion activists

Fetal Position

Lia Mills didn’t start Grade 7 with a plan to become famous. The year was 2009, and she was enrolled in a gifted class at Gordon A. Brown Middle School in East York. Everyone in her grade had to participate in a speech-writing contest. Winners would deliver their speeches in front of the school, and the school’s winner would battle district-wide. Most of Lia’s classmates chose serious, heavy topics such as human rights. Lia wanted to speak about abortion. She didn’t know much about it when she chose the topic, but the more she read, the more determined she became. She felt it was something God wanted her to do.

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Nicholas Hune-Brown: How to die on Facebook

When you’re dead, your Facebook page becomes a permanent digital gravestone, and your family and friends (and quite possibly some strangers) will indulge in a free-for-all of trivializing hagiography. The perils of online legacies

How to Die on Facebook

It was 11 in the morning on a warm Friday in September when a 16-year-old boy named Akash Wadhwa plunged from the Mavis Road overpass onto the busy 401. Shortly afterward, Peel police found the slain body of his classmate Kiranjit Nijjar in a nearby ravine.

At Mississauga Secondary School, what had begun as a series of horrific rumours solidified, piece by piece, into a single, devastating murder-suicide story. According to reports, Wadhwa, a depressed and troubled Grade 12 student, had strangled his 17-year-old friend Nijjar and then jumped onto the highway. Before he leapt, Wadhwa had left a last message on Facebook: “SUICIDE/MURDER NOTE: Three things I learned in life. What goes around comes around. KARMA is the biggest bitch. You should NEVER CHANGE on people who love and care for you… My one main reason I did this is that life let me down way too much.”

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Toronto writer Alexandra Molotkow shares the secrets of her cybersexual education

I’m among the first generation to come of age on the Internet. By 13, I was an expert at chat room sex, spotting cyber-pervs and hiding my secret life from my parents

My Cybersexual Education

In 1997, when I was in Grade 6, my friends and I sat at the back of the classroom and talked about sex. We would speculate on what it felt like and place bets on how old we’d be when we finally lost our virginity. We would make fun of the way orgasms sounded in movies and imagine what celebrities’ sex lives involved. Later, at home, we’d reconvene on ICQ, one of the Internet’s first major instant messaging systems, which allowed us to have conversations we wouldn’t want our parents overhearing. That was what the Internet was to us: pretty much what a tree house would have been a few years earlier.

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Random Stuff

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Toronto District School Board acknowledges reality and allows young folk to bring cellphones to school

Students can bring their mobile phones to school, with or without a cute quilted cover (Image: Wednesday Elf - Mountainside Crochet)

We’ll wager that this is going to make the deliberations about advertising on screens in schools a bit harder: on Thursday the TDSB relaxed its restrictions on cellphones. Come September, students will be allowed to use cellphones and other personal electronic devices in school hallways, though it will be up to individual teachers to decide whether phones can be brought into the classrooms themselves. Just yesterday we were saying we wanted to the city take a more laid-back approach to its rules, so we heartily approve of the board’s decision.

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Culture

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Skins recap, episode 8: the show that gets high school right—except when it doesn’t

Daisy at work on Skins (Image: MTV)

In this week’s fairly heavy-handed opening sequence of Skins, we learn that Daisy is the member of the gang “who fixes everything.” We also learn that she works at the Skins equivalent to Hooters (finally, the secret behind her ever-present cleavage revealed! Well, sort of), and that a game of sexual broken telephone has left just about everyone in the gang with a case of the clap. Everyone, that is, except Daisy and Abbud, because they’re still virgins. Or, at least, they were still virgins, until they decided to re-enact the plot of No Strings Attached before our very eyes. Groan.

As always, our Skins reality roundup: where the show’s rendition of high school reality gets an A, and where it gets an F.

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People

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Skins teens showing too much skin? Scantily clad 17-year-old actors arouse controversy in new Elle photo shoot

What to do when ratings are slipping? If you’re a member of the Skins cast, the answer is easy: strip down to your skivvies and score as much controversy as possible. That’s exactly what several of the show’s young and enviably bodied actors did for a photo spread by Joe Zee and Thomas Whiteside in the latest issue of Elle magazine. Cue outrage from the Parents Television Council. No big surprise, given that the PTC already has a hate-on for Skins and previously blew a gasket over undies-only shots of the Glee cast in GQ (and those actors aren’t even teenagers—they just play teens on TV).

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Memoir: my son was a leader, in life and in death

On a warm night last August, some 2,000 teenagers gathered for an end-of-summer party at Woodbine Beach. My 17-year-old son, Alex, and his friends Madison and Justin were among them. They’d heard about the party through Facebook and had been looking forward to it for two weeks. DJs would be there playing hip hop and rap, the kind of music Alex was passionate about.

The party was harmless but loud, and at 10 p.m., the police moved in to break it up. Squad cars equipped with loudspeakers ordered the kids to leave the area. A team of about 30 officers on horseback, bicycles and ATVs appeared, sending hundreds of kids toward Lake Shore Boulevard. Alex and his friends decided to go back to Madison’s house just across the street, but most of the kids weren’t from the neighbourhood, so they headed en masse to the bus stop at Lake Shore and Northern Dancer. The first bus to arrive filled up immediately, and the driver pulled out onto Lake Shore, choosing to skip the next stop, where dozens more teenagers were waiting. According to Madison, the boys assumed the bus was going to stop; they thought there was time to run across the road. Madison made it. Alex was one stride away from the safety of the median when the bus hit him, propelling him up the street and running over him before coming to a stop.

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TV screens coming to Toronto schools, students may briefly look up from their iPhones and notice

When money’s tight, firms look for new revenue streams, so this story isn’t really all that big a deal—except that the “firm” in this case is the Toronto District School Board, and the “revenue stream” is a gateway drug to commercial advertising. The Toronto Star reports that the TDSB is looking at installing flat-screen TVs at some 70 schools.

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Culture

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MTV’s Skins gets high school right—except when it doesn’t

The first instalment of Skins aired last night on MTV Canada, and though it entertained us, it underwhelmed in the OMFG department. Of course, the media and protesting parents groups had us anticipating Sodom and Gomorrah for youths, so  anything short of a meth-fuelled orgy would have felt tame. Shot in Toronto and starring a largely Canadian teen cast, the show prides itself on portraying young people as they really are—not squeaky cleaners or spoiled Upper East Siders. But how does the high school experience of Tony and the rest of the Skins gang stack up against what’s really going on in the lives of today’s teens? It’s been a while since our graduation year (hint: it coincided with the launch of Hotmail), so bear with us while we attempt to channel our inner adolescent, and by all means weigh in if you disagree. Below, our take on which aspects of the show ring true, and which feel faker than Ferris Bueller’s snoring machine.

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Politics

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Dalton McGuinty thinks kids should have cellphones in classrooms

(Image: Ben+Sam)

Dalton McGuinty wants to lift a ban? What is this, opposite day?

Premier McPrude—a man who has banned everything from pesticides to pit bulls to cellphones in cars to smoking—has become the unlikely defender of cellphones in high school classrooms. Currently, the TDSB has a policy against the use of all hand-held electronic devices during class time. McGuinty claims that “Telephones and BlackBerrys and the like are conduits for information today,” and that we want the generation of the future to be well informed. Cue Whitney Houston.

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TIFF Talk

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Slash parties at Tattoo Rock Parlour with a troupe of bodyguards

Doesn't he get sick of the hat? (Image: Fraser Abe)

When we heard that Slash, the epic rock icon from Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver was “hosting” (read: sitting in a private booth and drinking) a night at Tattoo Rock Parlour, we jumped on the chance to get a glimpse of the man who gave the world “November Rain.” Rumoured to arrive at midnight, he didn’t show until around 1 a.m. (natch, he’s a rock star) and we were a bit unnerved by the hour of waiting with throngs of kids too young to even remember GN’R, dancing madly to each successive song and delivering louder and louder group “wooos.”

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People

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Proactiv finds the most perfect spokesperson: Justin Bieber

To have Justin Bieber as the face of a product is to hit the marketing jackpot, but to have that product targeted primarily toward, even relied upon by, teenagers, well, no fee is too high a price. Proactiv has made Bieber its new spokesperson, joining a club that includes Vanessa Williams, Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry and Jennifer Love Hewitt. The Biebs is abiding by his contract dutifully, praising the product in an interview for People like a good pimple-free dancing monkey. “I know that for a teenager, it doesn’t matter how many people are looking at you, you don’t want acne on your face,” Bieber said. “I’m in the limelight all the time… I’m constantly doing interviews, constantly doing photo shoots and, you know, I’m determined to keep myself clear. Using Proactiv will help that.” Well played, Proactiv. The commercial (in which the Biebs praises hormones) at left.

Justin Bieber named the new face of Proactiv [People]

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Best of the City 2010: nine fun-filled activities, from karaoke to tennis

Family memberships at the Rosedale Tennis Club are a steal; Right: the 5 Drive-In offers malt shakes and cotton candy alongside summer blockbusters (Images: Jay Shuster)

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Teenage Sex and the City

We now know where parents, teachers and politicians stand on the too-hot-to-handle subject of sex ed, but we haven’t heard from the kids—until now

Dalton McGuinty riled up parents and teachers when he approved—and then quickly disapproved—a new sex ed curriculum that would have introduced such titillating topics as vaginal lubrication and anal intercourse into the classroom. All the debate among mature minds had us wondering what kids think, so we asked a group of high school students what they learned from years of anatomical charts and lessons about private parts.


“I remember feeling so embarrassed in, like, Grade 3 when we were learning about the proper names of body parts. I cried in class.”
- Joshua, 17
Waiting for marriage

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