November 14, 2007

Abstinence Ed doesn't work but Hip-Hop Ed might

I thought this article from the NY Times about using the language of hip-hop to reduce teen sexuality and increase empowerment of girls might be interesting to my friend who's an expert in studying teen sexuality. Then I thought it might be interesting to post on this blog as well. Only some of the hip-hip songs lead to risky sexual behavior. The study indicates that it's not the lyrics necessarily but the milleau surrounding listening to the music in groups that's the problem. To quote the article:

Most of the teenagers in the study were sexually experienced. But the researchers found that the overt sexuality of the music and dancing was not the main influence on sexual behavior. Rather it was the old standbys of alcohol, drugs and peer pressure that typically led them into sexual encounters.
When I was talking to my friend, she politely pointed out that studies show that abstinence education doesn't really work with teenagers. They are still going to have sex.

In Amanda Robb's NYT Op-Ed piece Oct. 18, 2007, she points out the tragedy of abstinence education:
In addition to provoking shame about a nearly universal activity, abstinence-only sex education is ineffective and dangerous. Last April, a 10-year study found that students who took abstinence-only courses were no more likely to abstain from sex than other students. Previous studies revealed that abstinence-only students avoid using contraception.
Here's a link to the AP article about the major study released in April 2007 about how teenage abstinence programs don't work. Here's a link to the Mathematica Policy Research report, which you can the download as a pdf, on which the news article is based on.

I think that the study noted in this Nov. 7 2007 Time article ("Abstienence not curbing
teen sex") is what I was thinking about when I was talking with my friend. It's by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. I found the images there from the group's new ad campaign. They are a tad odd, I think. Not sure if telling someone to 'stay self-centered' or 'stay a slacker' is such a good idea. But I'm sure they've been extensively market researched.

Just to be balanced, here's a study by the Heritage Foundation that teenagers who have sex are more likely to be depressed ad commit suicide. This sounds a lot like all those 1950s thinly veiled sex ed movies about kids who were 'fast' and then died in car crashes.

In the end, I have to agree with the Media Project's web site on teens and sex. It notes: "Young peopl
e have the right to sexual health information & services." As much as parents don't want to admit that their kids have sex, I think it's better to be informed all around. Perhaps good information can reduce problems.

And I have trouble spelling abstinence, so glad that my smart friend is doing the research -- she also knows more spelling rules than I do.

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