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The Idea

I currently play with the idea of a story where the protagonist travels a foreign world, visits places, studies customs hand history of locals, meets with survivors of historical events and takes a look at the physical characteristics and biology of the inhabitants and also their technology. It's basically like a fictional documentary and the protagonist is doing the research and narrating it.

The Species

The dominant life form of that world can be described as being basically dragons (the protagonist is of an other non human species). They look like you would expect a standard dragon to look like (four legs + a pair of wings). An adult dragon usually has a shoulder height between 1.5m and 2m (depending on subspecies and age and region). They walk an all fours but do everything else on two legs, basically sitting to have their hands free. Of course they can spit fire and fly.

Biology

As mentioned the Dragons are physically mostly what you would expect. They do look like reptiles (although some have birdlike feathers) but they are warm blooded and have reproductive organs that resemble much more those of a mammal. The Dragons are basically ovovivipary. Their young one is born alive except when environmental conditions aren't good e.g. there is not enough food or the female gets weak or sick. They can't actively control it but it could be induced by medication i.e by taking hormones. In this case the female lays eggs which shortens the pregnancy a lot. Most Dragons do not feed milk to the newborns.

The dragons are extremely long-living (500+ years are normal and they usually die by accident or sickness), robust, and not very fertile. Some female may engage in sexual activities regularly over 500 Years and never get pregnant but the opposite case also exists. Some females are very fertile and often act as surrogate mothers for other dragons that have no luck with getting a child by themselves. Artificial insemination almost never works. The fertility issue is subject to research but the cause or a cure is still not found. According to their research almost every female should have no problem getting pregnant. The fertility issue over was incorporated in the dragnon's main religion.

The average birth rate is slightly higher then the death rate. Population grows steadily but slowly and is, at the time when the protagonist visits their home world, at about seven milliards, split across several worlds an colonies.

If the pregnancy is successful the female gives birth to only one child (or lays one egg) at a time. Twins are extremely rare and usually reason for a big celebration. Complications during pregnancy or birth are very rare nowadays.

The young ones mature very quickly and grow fast in their first few years and then slowly grow to their full size over many years.

Culture

Most dragons have in common that they're curios and playful. They love games and riddles, in fact, in their home world they are so obsessed with games that they even settle major conflicts with games and sports.

The dragons, despite being technologically very advanced (colonizing space and have interdimensional travel), not only still look very feral, they value their feral roots and instincts as well, instinct driven behavior still plays an important role in their society and social interactions.

The young ones enter the school system at age four and visit school for about six years. Between the age 10 and 12 they usually get sexually mature. At the age of 10, they are allowed to move out, it's also the age where they're granted their first adult privileges, although not technically adult by the law (they are now young adults). They can now choose to enter a secondary school and study, get a job (usually apprenticeship) or travel the world before entering a career (which is tradition often followed). They can also get involved into some levels of Politics (like regional voting or joining a party).

The dragons live (at the time the protagonist visits them) in a post-scarcity society (similar to Earth in Star Trek although not that perfect). Medical science is very advanced and early pregnancy wouldn't bear much risk, STDs are rare and curable.

They have a tight social net of benefits that would support a young mother/father (males and females are treated equal in any way) in need and many dragons, that are unlucky with getting offspring by themselves, would like to adopt a child. Generally, rising a young dragon is often not done by a single pair of parents. Instead it's more a group effort mostly because most relationships are polygamous. Relationships are usually short.

Life long bonds are rare and marriage is a foreign concept although it happens, is influenced by other races and cultures, and usually only done in interspecies relationships with races that have shorter lifespans. Interspecies sex happens too, but there are no reports of a female dragon getting impregnated by a partner of a non-dragon race while males seem to be able to reproduce with some non-dragon races. In that case the offspring is always of the mothers race, so dragon-male + non-dragon-female = non-dragon offsping.

Dragons utilize inter-dimensional travel and colonize other "planes" instead of relying very much on space travel. They have contacts to many other species (also visited our earth at some point) some are just as advanced.

Sexual interaction is mostly not for procreation but more for the fun. Contraception is effective but usually not seen as needed since the dragons are very unfertile anyway. Therefore "teen" pregnancies are very rare too.

Why could sex still be not allowed for the young adults?

From my design of the race and its society I don't see why it shouldn't be perfectly okay for the young dragons to engage in sexual activities. It fits a race that gives in to it's instincts, like the mating instinct, where pregnancy and disease is a minimal risk and where sex could be seem to them as a form of play.

I want the dragon race to be a bit more relatable to human standards and want them to have good reasons why they forbid or at least strongly disprove that young dragons engage in sexual activities with each other and with older dragons as well.

I first thought of the dragon's courtship ritual maybe being dangerous and violent (like Klingon mating habits), therefore making it risky although everything else is not a problem. But I rather like my dragons to be nonviolent in any way that is not fighting in war or something like martial arts in sports.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if you are asking for a proper age and reasons, or for generic process? $\endgroup$ – Mołot May 30 '18 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ The question seems to assume that there is some sort of rational process for deciding when adolescents are mature enough to be responsible. Generally, there is not such process - minimum ages for driving, sexual activity, contracts, alcohol consumption, voting, etc., tend to be ad-hoc and driven by the social and political currents of the society at the time the decision was made. In other words, opinion-based. $\endgroup$ – user535733 May 30 '18 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ This question is highly opinion based. We mankind have cultures where mating is illegal before 18, and cultures where one can get married at 12.... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica May 30 '18 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch, we even have cultures where both are true at the same time and place. In the 21 states in the USA where there is no statutory minimum age, common law rules of marriage allow boys of 14 and girls of 12 to be married usually with permission required from parents and/or judges. California is one such state. At the same time, the age of consent in California is 18 unless the couple is married. So, in California (and a number of other states), a 35 year old man marrying and having sex with a 12 year old girl, legal. Two dating sixteen year olds having sex: both are guilty of a crime. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison May 30 '18 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas maybe I exegarated it a bit too much. Before I edited my question I also mentioned that although a female could be without a pregnancy for 500 years there's also the direct opposite where females have a extreme fertility and often act as surrogate mothers for not so lucky dragons. I thought of a birth rate that is on avarage just about the death rate. their entire population is currently about 7 milliards distributed across a few major worlds. maybe I should edit it back in. $\endgroup$ – Takiro Jun 3 '18 at 9:31
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Your dragons are into Eugenics - the idea that you should think carefully about who to mate with in order to create genetically ideal offsprings.

This might actually make sense. Low fertility and long lifespan means that dragons will have a rather long generation cycle. That means the species as a whole will evolve much slower than other species. The dragons are afraid that if they don't make wise breeding decisions, they will be evolutionarily overtaken by more fertile species.

Young dragons are not trusted to possess the maturity to decide who to mate with.

Further, they have not yet proven their abilities in life. Nobody knows yet what their genetic abilities are. So it is not yet possible to judge who they should mate with (or if they should mate at all).

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  • $\begingroup$ I very much like this Idea. This is also a good way to have some potential conflict in story telling when a dragon acts against the rules and it could even be expanded to adult dragons too. A government agency that oversees this could be an extreme consequence, although it would not fit my playful and life loving dragons, i guess. Still a good Idea I keep in mind. $\endgroup$ – Takiro Jun 3 '18 at 18:40
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This isn't the answer you're looking for, but your premises strongly imply that you won't get any such taboo or law.

First: you state that technology is far enough that complications in pregnancy have been effectively eliminated (trivial risk) and that even being pregnant young isn't going to pose a real health risk. You've thus eliminated one of the two key hazards of early pregnancy.

As for having sex in general, you've stated that STDs have been effectively eradicated, eliminating the health risk there. You've also stated that sex has become more for recreation than reproduction: this is generally the natural result of the above factors, but it also rules out any idea that mating in itself is dangerous for either partner (or it would not be done for fun). Therefore, your dragons have no reason to forbid sex (and potential pregnancy) on medical grounds.

Second: you state that there is a strong social safety net for any young mothers that might need help. They won't be left to raise their child alone, but will have support of the sort that poor families on Earth could only wish for: that's the other major hazard of early pregnancy dealt with. Therefore, sex won't be forbidden to the young for financial reasons.

Third: you state that the fertility rate is extremely low, even considering their long lifespan. Teen pregnancy is thus a very unlikely risk, even if it was something to be seen as problematic in itself; see the first two reasons for why you've already set up a world where it isn't a problem. You definitely won't see any taboo against the young having sex on grounds that there would be too many children.

Fourth: you state that their society has strong respect for natural instincts, that even in their modern civilized society those instincts still play a notable role. The mating instinct would logically be respected as much as the rest (if not more, for being the instinct that continues the species), and you've mentioned that they tend to curiosity as well; their bodies would naturally be one such object of curiosity. Therefore, given all of that, forbidding young dragons from acting on that instinct would run significantly against what you've established their society to be, particularly given how the other premises show that there's no material risk to them having sex.

Conclusion: your dragon society is not going to lift a finger to stop young curious dragons from indulging themselves by having sex. If anything, the older dragons are more likely to encourage the young to have sex, to answer their curiosity and to avert population decline. Each female in a given species must have (on average) two children who themselves survive to reproduce to maintain the overall population: in practice, more than two children must be born to compensate for those lost without reproducing (before industrialism and sanitation, fewer than half of humans survived their first ten years). With such low fertility as you're stating, your dragons need to be regularly trying to have children just to keep their population steady.

I'll also point out that "human standards" are far from universal, especially concerning the young and their sexual activities. Granted, in modern times most Western societies have the idea of "age of consent" (this being generally some time after sexual maturity is attained in the typical individual) before they can have sex. This is very much a modern construct: wind the clock back a few hundred years, when arranged marriages were more common, and you often find women married by fifteen with multiple children before twenty despite the health risks (which in your dragon society are avoided). Or look outside the admittedly widespread Western (mainly Christian) ideas of morality, for there are many countries where such practices are still common and seen as being normal; note that I am passing no judgement on those viewpoints, merely pointing out that they exist. There are almost two hundred recognized nations on Earth today: normal to one is baffling to another and horrifying to a third.

If you still insist that your society must have a taboo against the young having sex, it's not going to mesh with the rest of your world as presented in your question. You'd have to change at least two of these major premises to make it plausible, at which point you've made significant alterations to your dragon society such that it might no longer be recognizable.

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You might consider the difference between "recreational sex" and partnership/marriage for procreation.

  • In many societies, humans were expected not to marry until one partner (usually the man) could earn enough to support a small family (usually a non-employed woman doing all the domestic work plus a few children). That's changing these days, with the expectation that both partners may be working or that children may come out of wedlock.
  • Many societies accepted that humans would become sexually active at a younger age. This is not approval, elders would advise against it, but society accepts that there is no fighting young fools. There are safeguards like the age differential you mentioned -- two young fools together are OK, one young fool and a scheming adult are not OK.

A key question would be if the dragons have effective contraception. If no, expect sex to be disapproved until the partners have a prospect of raising a family. If yes, the dragons can afford to be more tolerant.

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  • $\begingroup$ The point with recreational sex is a very good one I did not consider that it could be just for fun. I'm going to rework my question to hopefully make it better answerable and will incorporate this into my question. They have effective contraception but since their fertility is very bad and birth rate is very low, its usually not put to use because it's seen as not needed. $\endgroup$ – Takiro May 31 '18 at 7:34
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Mating (if even seen as important, it might not, depending on the rearing customs and biology) would be OK somewhere at the end of the blunder years, around the time where other dangerous or life-changing decisions (for self and others) are acceptable. Think about voting, mind-altering (alcohol), killing (soldiers), entering contracts, running for office. Also think of the age at which behavior is starting to get sanctioned by society (laws) instead of family.

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  • $\begingroup$ you know you can edit your posts, instead of deleting and re-posting them? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica May 30 '18 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch- i know i can from my desktop, and i know i can't from my mobile, for some reason. $\endgroup$ – bukwyrm May 31 '18 at 10:02

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