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Love Bites

by: Sarah Marsh

Just when we thought we'd seen the last of the vampire books, there comes yet another vampire influence.

The Twilight saga (Stephenie Meyer novels about vampires) has swept the nation, capturing the hearts and minds of preteens and teenagers (and even some in early adulthood). While the Twilight series was geared toward the teen age group, some believe that young people are too impressionable to be reading and watching such storylines, which could be argued based on a recent fad - biting.

Yes, you read that correctly. A January 12th article in the Washington Post website stated that some students in middle schools and even some high schools across the country have substituted bite marks (until the point of drawing blood) on the neck, arms, even legs for hickeys and holding hands. Many of the teens participating say it is a more lasting way of showing the public that their girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend is "chosen," like in the movies, but some psychologists would say that possessive tendencies could arise in this young generation.

But, most are more concerned with health issues than psychological ones. Doctors and medical professionals are afraid that, as high as it already is, the spread of HIV and any other transferrable diseases will rise if blood is not confined.

Human saliva contains bacteria that can be easily transmitted through such contact. That being said, if a child or teenager gets bitten to the point of breaking the skin, and someone's mouth is continually in contact with the open sore, the changes of infection or diseases are very real.

Now, this article is not a stance for or against the Twilight series, (that is a discussion for another day), this is a simple attempt to warn parents and encourage them to be on the alert about yet another dangerous trend created by popular media.

So, what's a parent to do? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Become aware of the issue.
  2. Raise awareness with your children. (Ask something like, "So, I heard of this new trend becoming popular. What are your thoughts on it?")
  3. Help your child set clear, healthy boundaries.
  4. If you notice any marks on your child, approach him/her and present your concerns and the health risks. Consider a visit to your doctor for tests to certify that there is no infection.

What are parents saying? I conducted an impromptu survey of some parents and this is what they said:

One parent wrote in, "First thing I would do is sit my child down and have a frank discussion about this trend and its dangers ... just as we talked about sex outside of marriage and its ramifications. And much time would be spent in prayer.

Another wrote, "I think this article is informative; however, it shows how this age group is ‘blown about' by such things. Kids will be kids, and they should be warned about the real dangers of these control and health issues. Some may say that it's giving the kids ideas. Trust me, they already know and are 3 steps ahead of the older generation."

Parenting is challenging enough without the added influence of the pop culture. It is incumbent upon us to remain vigilant and informed in order to help children navigate the turbulent waters of the childhood-, preteen-, and teen-age world.

Source: "Campus Overload - Twilight Obsession Leads to Biting Trend?" Blogs & Columns, Blog Directory - The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. .


Authors: Sarah Marsh