By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found that teenagers who listen to popular music with degrading sexual lyrics are more likely to engage in sexual activity.
Writing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, lead researcher Dr. Brian A. Primack said, “This study demonstrates that, among this sample of young adolescents, high exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex in popular music was independently associated with higher levels of sexual behavior.
“In fact, exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex was one of the strongest associations with sexual activity … These results provide further support for the need for additional research and educational intervention in this area.”
The study was based on surveys completed by 711 ninth-grade students at three large urban high schools. Participants were exposed to over 14 hours a week of lyrics describing degrading sex. About a third of these students said they were already sexually active. Compared to those with the least exposure to these lyrics, those with the most exposure were more than twice as likely to have engaged in sex.
With sexual activity among U.S. teens resulting in over 750,000 teenage pregnancies each years and as many as 25 percent of all female adolescents having sexually transmitted infections, researchers and public health officials are trying to identify those factors that are encouraging sexual activity in teens.
Jane Brown, a professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told CBCNews.ca that these findings corroborate a couple of previous studies and supports the notion that there is a relationship between sexual explicit lyrics and teen sexual activity.
Parents need to pay more attention to this, and help their teens choose healthier, less degrading music, she advised.
“Secondly, I would like to see the musicians’ community take some responsibility for this,” she said.
“And thirdly, we can teach what we call media literacy, which is to help kids be more critical media users, or more intelligent media users, so that they know it’s not in their best interest to be modelling sexually degrading images.”
Primack agreed with the need for media literacy.
“If we give young people the ability to analyze and evaluate all those messages for themselves, so they can hopefully understand a little bit more about the fact that these messages are not necessarily reflecting real life, then they might not be prone to simply imitate what they hear.”
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