Teens might occasionally stretch the truth or tell minor lies to avoid disappointing their parents, teachers, employers or other authority figures, but lies can become dangerous when associated with potentially harmful behavior. Teens might tell damaging and dangerous lies about a peer on social media sites, send untrue text messages or spread rumors at school. Lying in teens can also indicate the presence of a potentially dangerous mental, emotional or social disorder.
1. Sexual Activity
It is normal for teens to shy away from talking to parents about sex. Some might lie about sexual activity because they fear disappointing their parents or are embarrassed. When teens lie about people they are spending time with or sneak away to be with a partner, they could put themselves in a spot they are not mature enough to handle, such as how to treat a sexually transmitted disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Teens, especially girls, who lie about their sexual activity might be at risk for emotional troubles, lower self-esteem and unwanted pregnancy, according to a CBS News report.
2. Substance Abuse
Teens who use drugs or alcohol might lie or steal to find ways to fund and engage in illegal activities, according to MedlinePlus. Lying about drug use is not only harmful to the developing teen brain and body, but can be harmful to others. If teenagers were to encounter a dangerous circumstance such as an overdose or drug-related accident, they might lie about their involvement and avoid getting help, potentially denying a victim the opportunity to get the assistance he needs.
When lying is associated with bullying, it can be dangerous for all involved. Bullied teens might lie about unexplained injuries, mood changes or a drop in grades to try to protect themselves from being bullied again or because they embarrassed about the bullying, according to HealthyChildren.org. Bullies who spread lies are also potentially in danger because their actions could stem from abusive or other unhealthy circumstances in their home. Low self-esteem could cause teens to spread hurtful and long-lasting rumors about other teens online, as a publication of the National Crime Prevention Council reports.
4. Underlying Issues
If teens show no remorse after lying and are exhibiting other potentially concerning behavior, including stealing, destroying property or harming themselves and others, they might have an undiagnosed disorder or illness, as OneToughJob.org reports. Repeated lying can be a symptom for personality illnesses such as anti-social disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic. If underlying mental and emotional conditions are not treated with therapeutic interventions such as individual and family counseling, the lies and other related behaviors could lead to criminal activity or other troubling behaviors.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sexual Risk Behavior, HIV, STD, and Teen Pregnancy Prevention
- CBS News: Teen Sex May Take Emotional Toll
- Medline Plus: Drug Signs and Teenagers
- OneToughJob.org: Lying, Stealing, and Cheating
- Mayo Clinic: Anti-Social Personality Disorder
- Healthy Children: Teen Safety: Putting an End to Bullying
- StopBullying.gov: The Effects of Bullying
- National Crime Prevention Council: Stop Cyberbullying Before it Starts
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images