Calling media portrayals of sex “unhealthy,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new guidelines calling on all media outlets to present human sexuality in a healthy, scientifically accurate manner. At the same time, the group promoted the use of contraceptives among teenagers and denigrated abstinence-only education.
UPDATE 9/7/10: Coverage by Washington Times
-- From "American Academy of Pediatrics Says Media Portrayal of Sex ‘Unhealthy'" by Matt Cover, CNSNews.com Staff Writer 9/3/10
“There is a major disconnect between what mainstream media portray – casual sex and sexuality with no consequences – and what children and teenagers need – straightforward information about human sexuality and the need for contraception when having sex,” the AAP said.
This proliferation of inaccurate sexual messages has had documented effects on youth sexual behavior, the AAP reported. Kids exposed to sexual material on television are almost twice as likely to engage in sexually risky behavior at a younger age than youth whose parents limit their exposure to sexually saturated media.
These negative trends are happening at a time when public sexual education has favored a scientifically unfounded, abstinence only approach, said the organization, adding that as public policy has avoided providing youth with accurate information about sex, the media have become the sexual educator of “last resort.”
“Because so many sex education programs have recently been focused on abstinence only, the media have arguably become one of the leading sex educators in the United States today,” the AAP said. “Yet, parents and legislators fail to understand that although they may favor abstinence-only sex education (despite the lack of any evidence of its effectiveness), the media are decidedly not abstinence only.”
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