Monday, November 3, 2008

Sex: Are Books Like TV? ALA Says Books Help A Child Learn From a Safe Distance While Studies Show Similar TV Lessons Lead To Double Teen Pregnancies

A new study shows "a compelling link between a high exposure to sexual content on television and teen pregnancies." See "Teens Who Watch Sex in the City More Likely to Get Pregnant," by Rosemary Bennett, Times Online, 3 November 2008. This comports with "The Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls," by Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, et alia, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, 2007. (See "What Parents Can Do.")

The American Library Association [ALA] says this is not true. The ALA says sexual content such as oral sex in books is "a way for kids to experience something at a safe distance -- and a way for them to make up their minds about how they would respond in that kind of situation. .... Unless you read stuff that's perhaps not the most literary, you'll never understand what good works are.... Nobody complains about the adult women who read Harlequin romances." See "Racy Reading; Gossip Girl Series is Latest Installment in Provocative Teen Fiction, and It's As Popular As It Is Controversial," by Linda Shrieves, The Orlando Sentinel, 6 August 2005.

Similar to the ALA, some authors say nearly the same things. Author Lauren Myracle, for example, says, "As a Texas librarian said to me just today (when I was in the lovely state of Texas): 'The girls who read your books? They're the girls who *don't* make the mistakes that Zoe, Maddie, and Angela make. The girls who aren't reading the books are the ones you need to worry about.' To which I say: Amen." See "Is TTYL On Your School Library Book Shelves?," by Vicki Courtney, Virtue Alert, 29 October 2008, comment #24.

I have given you both sides. Even though books and TV are different media, they are similar in significant ways. Now you be the judge of what's best for your children:

Times Online
November 3, 2008
Republished under US Copyright Fair Use

Teens Who Watch Sex in the City More Likely to Get Pregnant

Rosemary Bennett, Social Affairs Correspondent

Teenagers who watch Sex in the City, Friends and other TV shows featuring sex scenes and discussions of sex are far more likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant than their peers, a new study has found.

The study, which tracked more than 700 sexually active teenagers aged between 12 and 17 for three years, discovered that those who viewed the most sexual content were almost twice as likely to get pregnant or get their girlfriend pregnant as those who saw the least explicit TV.

The study was lead by Anita Chandra, a behavioural scientist at RAND, an independent research organisation. It is published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr Chandra said that sexual content on TV had doubled in recent years, coinciding with teenage pregnancy rates edging up after decades of decline.

“We were surprised to find this link. But teens spend a good amount of their time watching television — an average of three hours a day — and we don’t know a lot about its impact on their health decisions,” she said.

“Watching this kind of sexual content on television is a powerful factor in increasing the likelihood of a teen pregnancy. We found a strong association.”

Studies have found a link between watching television shows with sexual content and becoming sexually active earlier, and between sexually explicit music videos and an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

But this is the first research to show an association between TV watching and teenage pregnancy.

Dr Chandra and her colleagues surveyed more than 2,000 adolescents aged between 12 and 17 from 2001 to 2004 to gather information about a variety of behavioural and demographic factors, including television viewing habits. They then analysed the sexual content of 23 shows in the 2000-2001 season, and calculated how often the teenagers saw characters kissing, touching, having sex, and discussing past or future sexual activity.

The shows included Sex in the City and Friends, dramas, comedies, reality shows and animated programmes on broadcast and cable networks. Sitcoms had the highest sexual content.

Among the 718 youths who reported being sexually active during the study, the likelihood of getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant increased steadily with the amount of sexual content they watched, the researchers found.

About 25 per cent of those who watched the most were involved in a pregnancy, compared with about 12 per cent of those who watched the least. The researchers said that they took into account other factors such as being from a one-parent family, wanting to have a baby and engaging in other risky behaviours.

“We don’t think that [TV] is necessarily more significant than some of the family and neighbourhood factors that can lead to teen pregnancies. But even when we removed all the other factors, we still saw a compelling link between a high exposure to sexual content on television and teen pregnancies,” Dr Chandra said.


  1. From the "toxic" pager: So, it should not surprise to find that our modern variants of Hitler’s Nazi youth are racist, anti-Christian, misogynists who use the Nazi insignia and laugh as they point at and gun down unarmed young girls.

    Yep, I see those types hanging around the public library reading books every time I visit.

  2. Why would it be a surprise that teens watching crap tv about promiscuous women end up pregnant more often then those that don't?

    Were you surprised? Anybody?

    That is like saying teens that go to the best schools are more likely to get into college.


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