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Teen Indecent Exposure: Is It Due to Poor Judgment or a Mental Disorder?

Today’s society takes sex crimes very seriously because these crimes can quickly escalate into more fatal crimes. Many of these crimes involve violence or include teens and younger children. Some of the most common sex crimes include rape, sexual abuse, and incest. Aside from these crimes, there are other states that illegalize one’s exposure of certain body parts to another individual, whether there was violence involved or none. This crime is also known as indecent exposure.

A number of people have been arrested due to indecent exposure; some of them are teens. Teens are vulnerable to this crime, especially when they are drunk or under the influence of illegal substances. These teens might believe that exposing their private body parts to other people, especially strangers, are fun and daring. But how can one tell if the teen committed the crime of indecent exposure due to bad judgment or if it has become a mental disorder.

What Is Exhibitionism?

Exhibitionism is also known as flashing. This act is mostly committed by a young adult or adult male; although there are females who commit this act, it is very rare. Exhibitionism is the act of exposing one’s genitals to another unsuspecting individual. This condition is a mental disorder as well as a paraphilia which is marked by a person’s obsession with unusual sexual methods. The individuals who commit this crime experience a kind of high and sexual excitement when they expose their genitals. The exhibitionist will also feel a strong desire to observe their victim’s reaction as well as the desire to be observed while they masturbate. Individuals with this mental disorder are usually aware of their actions.

The Symptoms Of This Mental Disorder

There have been reports involving teens who have committed indecent exposure. Most of these teens commit the act because they were drunk and unable to think straight. Some also commit this crime due to peer pressure and their own thrill-seeking behaviors. If your teen has been charged with indecent exposure, you have to figure out if he committed the crime due to poor judgment or if it is a sign of an underlying mental disorder.

There are red flags that your teenager is an exhibitionist. These symptoms are divided into four categories:

  • Mild: The teenager has recurrent fantasies of exposing his genitals, but has never acted on his fantasies
  • Moderate: The young adult has exposed himself to strangers and has trouble controlling the compulsion to keep doing it. If your teen is a repeat offender of indecent exposure, you might want to consider talking to him or bringing him to a professional.
  • Severe: The people with severe symptoms of exhibitionism have exposed himself to three or more people, and they cannot control the urge.
  • Catastrophic: This is a severe symptom wherein the exhibitionist resorts to sadistic and violent behaviors.

The Legal Aspect Of Indecent Exposure

Teenagers who have committed indecent exposure can be charged with a misdemeanor crime; however, if this behavior is not treated immediately, it can quickly escalate to becoming a violent sex crime.

The laws concerning indecent exposure may vary from state to state. There are some states that define this act as being nude in the presence of another individual of the opposite sex other than one’s spouse. There are also some instances wherein, what is considered as indecent in some states may be socially acceptable to some states. This crime is usually charged with a misdemeanor charge; however, if the individual commits the act in front of a minor, he will most likely face criminal charges.

Help For Teen Exhibitionism

For parents, like you and your spouse, to be able to offer help for teens who are suffering with this mental disorder, the teen must first admit that they have a problem. The teenager must be honest with himself. Trying to justify their behavior and thinking that their victims wanted to see their exposed bodies, is a distorted view that prevents many teen exhibitionists from seeking treatment. If your teen admits that he has a problem in trying to suppress his urge to expose himself, offer help immediately. Avoid judging your child, and instead offer the help they need. Additionally, if your teen has been arrested for indecent exposure, talk to them and try to open your line of communication.

Exhibitionists must be referred to a professional psychiatrist or clinical psychologist so that they can be evaluated. The treatment may combine various methods and techniques. The treatment may also include learning how to control urges, impulses, and how to handle stress, anger, and anxiety.

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The author, Kris Lim, is a Psychology major who writes about teen exhibitionism, and how teens might get in trouble for committing indecent exposure. She also shares the information she gathers from her research to law firms with qualified and licensed Massachusetts criminal attorneys.

About Dangerous Lee

Writer of essays, short stories and Ask A Black Girl. Author of Keep Your Panties Up and Your Skirt Down & The Half Series - When Black People Look White. Webmaster of DangerousLee.biz.



  1. Pingback: Teen Indecent Exposure: Is It Due to Poor Judgment or a Mental Disorder? | CookingPlanet - December 19, 2012

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