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Graduate of the University of Oregon, Married for 4-1/2 years to my High School sweetheart. I am currently residing in Cleveland while I attend med school.

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    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Sexy Music and Sex among teens

    So, my disclaimer comes up front: I in no way condone strongly sexually explicit music among children. That being said, a recent study concludes that teens who do listen to music with sexually explicit lyrics are more likely to begin having sex earlier than their peers.
    Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music "gives them a specific message about sex," said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.
    I'm not convinced. As a teen, I frequently listened to music that referenced sex, drugs, crime, etc... Furthermore, I frequently watched (and continue to watch) movies that have explicit scenes of sex and violence. Yet, I remained abstinent until my marriage, have never done drugs, and haven't been in a fight since middle school. Music didn't influence me, or most of my friends, so why should I believe that it will influence so many others?

    I will agree with the authors that there is probably a correlation between the two. However, as anybody who read and understood Freakonomics (check out the Freakonomics blog), a correlation tells us nothing about causation. It's very plausible, and I would posit that it is more likely that other factors influence both a tendency to listen to this type of music, and a tendency to engage in sexual activity at a young age.

    My Father allowed me a great deal of independence as a teen, but he also instilled the sense of right-and-wrong in me. I knew that my independence came because I could be trusted - and I could be trusted because I had an excellent role model that helped to guide my behavior. Thus, I was able to listen to this type of music without engaging in the activities.

    Correlations are easy to determine; causation is more difficult. I have a feeling that music has a minor, possibly non-existent, effect. Likely it is parenting and general upbringing that truly influence this activity.

    UPDATE 8/8/06: Looking at the Freakonomics Blog, they reach the same conclusion that the relationship is not necessarily causal.

    4 Comments:

    Blogger Ben A. Johnson said...

    Of course, we should also keep in mind that teen sexuality as a societal "problem" is a rather recent one(just as the concept of adolescence is relatively new). Though of course sexuality has changed in all sort of other ways too... but that's not my point...

    10:03 PM  
    Blogger Ben A. Johnson said...

    also, the study has some methodological problems that i won't get into, and i'm not sure if you hae to be a sexuality scholar for them to be obvious or not...

    research

    10:10 PM  
    Blogger T.L. Stanley said...

    The question: Does sexy music cause teens to have more sex? Good question indeed. The natural drive to reproduce may be the primary factor. On the other hand, the social environment of teens has changed. Just ask any jr. high school teacher about the way children 10 to 13 dress, dance, and talk about sex related topics. This was a good post. Take care.

    3:50 AM  
    Anonymous Debbie said...

    People have been saying this for generations, blaming music for sex among teens. I don't see the connection. It is nurture, parents/grandparents and religious training that play a much greater part.

    6:31 PM  

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