Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Media messages render abstinence programs ineffective

This article discusses how the media impact on our youth has probably more influence than all the programs they are exposed to in schools, and in our communities. The importance of a comprehensive education that also takes into consideration what life really looks like more than what our wishful thinking may be.
A RAND Corp. study released in September concluded that watching sex on TV predicts and may hasten adolescent sexual initiation. It said there were "substantial associations between the sexual content viewed by teens and advances in their sexual behavior during the subsequent year." In other words, young teens begin to take on the sexual behavior of older teens and, consequently, are inclined to be sexually active earlier.

The bottom line is that teens learn about sexuality from the mass media. Two-thirds of children ages 8 to 18 have a television in their bedrooms, and many have access to cable. Teens who watch three to five hours of television a day witness about 2,000 sex acts per year - including implied intercourse, embracing, kissing and fondling.

So while adults continue to debate the issues of abstinence-only education, our youths are tuning in to TV programs such as The OC and Desperate Housewives to learn about relationships. Whether it is sexual exploration for younger adolescents or forming romantic attachments for older adolescents, the media are setting the agenda. Because this is such a broad issue, there must be multiple strategies to deal with sex and the media.


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