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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

PENNSYLVANIA: Sex on TV and Teens: Professor, Lecturer Says Explicit Shows Can Encourage Conversations About Sexual Activity


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10.17.11) - Friday, October 28,

Speaking ahead of the Pregnant Adolescent Childcare Training program at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit on Oct. 21 in Greensburg, Christine Black of Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) discussed the possible influence of sexually explicit TV programs on teen behavior.

"Yes, exposure to sexually explicit material has been shown to influence sexual initiation in some studies. ... On the other hand, these shows can also lead to discussion and risk information," said Black, a health and physical education professor at IUP.

Black said studies show that "kids are postponing early [sexual] initiation." "But if you go by anecdotal evidence in Western Pennsylvania, the kids are coming in younger and younger for birth control and other issues." Such evidence must be considered, she said, since it is difficult to get statistical studies for children not yet in high school.

"Tweens," or youths ages eight to 12, do mimic the behavior of older youths, Black observed. "They just aspire to be older than their years now. ... If you want to see the impact of the media, look at what little kids are wearing." A positive development is that teens today are more likely to practice safe sex than youths in the 1990s, said Black.


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