Study Links Rap to Underage Sex & Drinking

8973424_sA new study has found that young people who listened to rap music in the seventh grade were 2.5 times more likely than their peers to become engaged in sexual activity by the ninth grade.

The Daily Mail is reporting on the study which was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Almost 450 students middle school students were surveyed over a two year period about how often they listened to rap music – which tends to be sexually explicit than other music – and whether they believed their peers were having sex between the ages of 13 and 16.

Researchers found that students who listened to rap music three or more hours a day in the seventh grade, and who believed their peers were having sex, were 2.5 times more like to report having had sex by the ninth grade.

Experts believe that when youth hear sexually explicit lyrics in a song, they look to their friends to determine if this behavior is happening around them, which influences their decision about whether or not to become sexually involved.

“Rap music influences your beliefs about what you think your peers are doing,” said Kimberly Johnson-Baker, lead author of the study.

“It’s a norming agent that tells you that certain things are OK, like drinking alcohol or having sex. It gives you the idea that everyone is doing it. And the more you’re listening to it, the more you’re conforming, so you could see how it would set up a belief about what your peers are doing. Perceived peer sex is the most powerful predictor of future sex and addressing perceived peer behavior with youth is really important.”

The study’s limitations concerned the sample, which was mostly urban, ethnic minority youth, and was not large enough to examine differences between genders and ethnicity.

Johnson-Baker plans to study how listening to rap music in the fifth grade influences perceptions of peers and sexual initiation in high school.

The findings were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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