A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Updated 3-12-2009
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Kids and Gangs: Protecting Your Child

Advice for Parents

The majority of teenagers who become involved in Gothic move on to something else within a few years. Most find it appealing initially as a form of rebellion and as a way to gain social belonging. A teenager will basically try on the gothic identity to see if it fits. For most young people, Goth is a phase. Some do stay involved because they have found a group of people with similar interests and ideals. Those who are likely to become interested in Goth and remain involved in it will usually possess most of the following characteristics and traits beforehand: individualistic, reflective, artistic, introspective, emotionally focused and driven, sensitive, non-violent, moody. They are likely to have a distaste for authority, possess above average intelligence, and be social misfits.

There are elements of Gothic culture that can be destructive for those who choose that route. Teenagers are faced with the same basic decisions regarding drugs, drinking, smoking and sex in any youth social group. It is always an individual's choice to experiment with any potentially destructive forces gothic culture might expose him or her to. If a person is easily led and susceptible to the influence of peers, then it is possible for that person to be led into the destructive side of Goth. If a person is self-assured and has made solid decisions beforehand regarding sex, drugs, drinking, and so forth, they are less likely to become influenced by any negative aspects of the culture. Parents and adults in authority who set reasonable limits and keep communication lines open help any child, gothic or not, resist any negative or destructive influences.

I believe that two of the most important things to emphasize to all teenagers are: don't start smoking; and use condoms if you choose to have sex. These two issues should be addressed with children long before they become teenagers, long before they ever hear the word "gothic." Many parents want to turn a blind eye to the fact that these choices exist. Parents might assume that because of their own value system, their children would never consider smoking or having sex. Some adults expect that by simply telling youth that sex or smoking is "wrong" that it will discourage them from experimenting. Adults need to deal with these issues by providing facts and helping youth to understand the reality of consequences, not by using moral scare tactics or avoidance. Condoms and birth control need to be made easily accessible to all teenagers. Youth who end up growing out of a rebellious phase can be negatively impacted for the rest of their lives by the consequences that can result from starting smoking or having unprotected sex. Being gothic doesn't mean that a person will start smoking and having unprotected sex. It depends on the person. One's personality, parents and background are much more indicative of who is likely to smoke or have unprotected sex. However, these are areas that I believe merit a measure of watchfulness and attention when dealing with gothic youth, as well as youth in general.