Tuesday, January 7th, 2014
Sexting, or sending sexually suggestive text messages or photos, is becoming more common behavior for younger and younger children, as a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found in a study of seventh graders. Research has linked sexting with a greater likelihood that teens will engage in sexual behaviors. More from Today.com:
Almost a quarter of troubled seventh-graders send sexually suggestive texts or photos, with those sending explicit pictures especially likely to engage in sexual behavior, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
“Certainly, if (parents) see photos, then that’s an extra warning sign that there might be a real need to have a conversation and to monitor,” Dr. Christopher Houck, lead author of the study and a psychologist at Rhode Island Hospital, told TODAY Moms.
“Previous studies have suggested that a very small percentage of early adolescents were sexting, but we don’t really believe that.”
Houck said the only other research to include this age group relied on phone interviews with kids while their parents were present, likely affecting the results.
This study focused on adolescents identified by school counselors as having “symptoms of behavioral or emotional difficulties.” The eligible seventh-graders, who were 12 to 14 years old and enrolled in public middle schools in Rhode Island, were then given questionnaires to fill out about their sexting behavior, as well as their sexual experience.
Image: Tween using a cell phone, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
A new report published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found that most pediatricians spend an average of only 36 seconds talking with adolescent patients about sex and sexuality. This finding is discouraging in light of recommendations that doctors cultivate relationships with teens that encourages them to feel comfortable discussing uncomfortable topics including sex. More from CNN.com:
About one-third of adolescent patient-doctor interactions result in no talk at all about sexuality – which includes things like sexual activity, dating and sexual orientation.
“A lot of these are one-way conversations,” said Stewart C. Alexander, associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and lead author of the study. “The adolescent barely talks or responds (when issues of sexuality are raised).
“Doctors just lob it up there and when there isn’t participation, they stop going there.”
About 30% of the time, the conversations lasted between one and 35 seconds (out of an average 22-minute appointment), while 35% of conversations went a bit longer, according to the study. On the high end of the spectrum, the sex-talk lasted just under two minutes – hardly enough time to delve deeply into a topic.
Researchers listened to audio recordings of annual doctors’ visits with 12 to 17 year olds (with their parents’ consent) in the North Carolina area from 2009-2012; study participants included 253 adolescents and 49 physicians.
They analyzed the conversations according things like how often sexuality was raised, how engaged the adolescent was during those conversations, and who brought up issues of sexuality.
Questions ranged from “Are you having sex?” and “How many partners do you have?” to more innocuous-seeming fare, like “Are you dating?” Not surprisingly, the usual response from the adolescents tended toward one-word answers.
What should be happening, according to organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, is for children and adolescents to “discuss potentially embarrassing experiences, or reveal highly personal information to their pediatricians,” according to a policy statement on the AAP website.
Image: Teen at doctor’s appointment, via Shutterstock
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Friday, December 13th, 2013
A six-year-old Colorado boy who was suspended from school under a sexual harassment claim after he allegedly kissed a girl on her hand has been reinstated at school, and the charge has been dropped. The incident made national news, and the outcome has apparently relieved the boy’s mother but disappointed the girl’s. More from CNN:
The story of first-grader Hunter Yelton made national news and spurred outrage this week after word spread that his school near Colorado Springs suspended him for the kiss and accused him of sexually harassing the girl.
On Wednesday night, CNN affiliate KRDO reported that Canon City Schools Superintendent Robin Gooldy met with Hunter’s parents. The superintendent then changed Hunter’s disciplinary offense from “sexual harassment” to “misconduct.”
The boy has also returned to school at the Lincoln School of Science & Technology.
The boy’s mother, Jennifer Saunders, told KRDO the whole thing stemmed from an innocent crush Hunter had on a girl in the class. He kissed her on the hand during reading group. That landed him a two-day suspension from school and an entry of sexual harassment in his school files.
Saunders admitted Hunter had problems at school before, getting suspended for rough-housing and for kissing the same girl on the cheek.
But the label of sexual harasser outraged her.
“This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a 6-year-old,” Saunders told the station “Now my son’s asking questions, ‘What is sex, mommy?’”
Jade Masters-Ownbey, the mother of the girl Hunter is accused of kissing, told the local newspaper that the school district was right in protecting her daughter.
The mother, who is also a teacher in the school district, said Hunter had tried to kiss her daughter “over and over” without her permission, according to Canon City Daily Record.
“I’ve had to coach her about what to do when you don’t want someone touching you, but they won’t stop,” Masters-Ownbey told the newspaper.
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Image: Kids holding hands, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Teenagers–especially heterosexual teens–who are either bullied or who are both bullies and victims of bullying are more likely to exhibit risky sexual behaviors, a new Boston University study has found. More from Reuters:
“Some previous research has found that aggression and sexual risk-taking are related, so it was not entirely surprising that bullies and bully-victims reported more sexual risk-taking than their peers,” Melissa K. Holt said.
What’s more, some research has found that kids and teens cope with being bullied by using drugs or alcohol, for instance. Acting out sexually may be another way young people respond to bullying, Holt told Reuters Health.
She led the research at the Boston University School of Education.
The study included almost 9,000 high school students from 24 schools who completed a survey about bullying and sexual behavior. “Risky sex” was defined as casual sex and sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
About 80 percent of the students said they had not bullied other kids or been bullied themselves.
Seven percent of those teens reported ever having casual sex with someone they had just met or didn’t know very well. And 12 percent said they had had sex under the influence.
The numbers were similar for students who said they had been bullied, but hadn’t bullied others.
But among the six percent of kids who claimed to have acted as bullies, one quarter had engaged in casual sex and just over a third said they’d had sex while drunk or high.
Another six percent of students said they had both acted as bullies and been the victims of bulling. Of those teens, 20 percent had had casual sex and 23 percent reported having sex under the influence.
The researchers accounted for other childhood experiences that might lead to sexual risk-taking, but the link to bullying remained.
Image: Bully, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
A decade ago, 60 percent of American college students used condoms when having sex, but that number has fallen since. This discouraging news comes at the same time as reports of rising rates of sexually-transmitted diseases, with half of new STD diagnoses coming from young people. More from Time.com:
A recent study released by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada found that nearly 50% of sexually active college students aren’t using condoms. Other reports have foundthat while teenagers are likely to use a condom the first time they have sex, their behavior becomes inconsistent after that.
Health officials from Oregon to Georgia are ringing alarm bells about rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases, worried that kids aren’t getting the message. Sex education is more robust than it was for previous generations, but a 2012 Guttmacher Institute report revealed that while nearly 90% of high schools are teaching students about abstinence and STDs, fewer than 60% are providing lessons about contraception methods.
The CDC estimates that half of new STD infections occur among young people. Americans ages 15 to 24 contract chlamydia and gonorrhea at four times the rate of the general population, and those in their early 20s have the highest reported cases of syphilis and HIV. Young men and women are more likely than older people to report having no sex in the past year, yet those who are having sex are more likely to have multiple partners, which increases the risk of STDs.
“We need to do better as a nation,” says Laura Kann, an expert in youth risk behaviors at the CDC. “Far too many kids in this country continue to be infected with HIV and continue to be at risk.”
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics urged high schools to make condoms available to students, citing STDs as a main concern.
Image: Condom, via Shutterstock
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