Although I believe much of our parenting skills evolve from having some good ‘ol common sense, the scientist in me certainly appreciates finding solid research to justify what many (including myself) may feel to be quite obvious. Therefore, I find some consolation in reporting the findings from a research study just published in the journal Pediatrics which validates concerns surrounding teenagers being exposed to explicit sexual contact on television.
In a study initially with over 2000 teenagers completing a baseline interview, researchers re-interviewed over 70% of this population 3 years later to assess the degree of exposure to sexual content on television and determine if any correlation with teen pregnancy existed. And, well, the findings were probably as you might expect. Those teens who were exposed to higher levels of sexual content on the television (90th percentile) were two times more likely to be involved in a teen pregnancy than those in the 10th percentile.
Now before responding angrily at where the direction of this may be going, I want it to be clear I have cared for many children of outstanding teen parents. I have witnessed exceptional parenting instincts and beautifully developing children. But unfortunately, this is not always the case as I share with you some details surrounding those involved in teen pregnancies:
I cannot change these facts. And again, this is not a condemnation of teen pregnancies (please reread my words above) but hopefully just a reality check to what is probably occurring in the lives of our adolescents. And what can be done? Well, it may be just pure optimism but something I always express and stress with the tweens, teens, and their parents in my office...do your best in maintaining an open dialogue with each other...we all may be better served when doing so.