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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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
A new study has found that forced sexual contact, from unwanted kisses to rape, are all too common among American teens. Nine percent of the more than 1,000 young men and women surveyed admitted to using coercive tactics with unwilling partners. More from NBC News:
From a hastily forced kiss to outright rape, violent or at least coerced sexual contact may be worryingly common among teens and young adults, researchers reported Monday.
They found 9 percent of youths aged 14 to 21 admitted to some kind of forced sexual contact, using tactics from guilt to threats and actual physical force. Half blamed their victims.
Four percent of the more than 1,000 young men and women surveyed admitted to having raped someone else, the researchers report in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Pediatrics.
But most who tried or completed rape said they didn’t use physical force – 63 percent of those who said they had forced someone to have sex against their will said they used guilt as their main tactic, while 32 percent said they used arguments and other verbal pressure.
And the problem behavior tends to really begin at around age 16, said Michele Ybarra of the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, California and Kimberly Mitchell of the University of New Hampshire.
Ybarra says the study doesn’t paint the whole picture and she says the findings should encourage other researchers to dig a little deeper into questions about sexual behavior in the teen years, and whether it’s possible to predict and even prevent sexual violence.
What is clear is that many teens are not getting the message that ‘no’ means no, she said.
“What we wanted to find was the intent to get somebody to do something sexually when they knew the person did not want to do it,” Ybarra said in a telephone interview.
It’s hard to know just how common the problem really is, or how representative the teens and young adults in the survey are of the whole population. They’d all been taking part in a broader survey of teen use of violent media that started in 2006, when most were about 12, Ybarra and Mitchell say.
“We know that adolescence is an important time when these types of behavior emerge,” Ybarra said.
The questions are very detailed and do not include words such as “rape”. The teens were asked questions such as “In the last 12 months, how often have you kissed, touched, or done anything sexual with another person when that person did not want you to?”
Image: Teen couple, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, June 20th, 2013
The rate of infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) has decreased significantly among teenagers since a vaccine against the virus was introduced in 2006. CNN reports on how the decrease in infection rates has surpassed researchers’ expectations and hopes:
“The prevalence of the types of HPV that commonly cause cervical cancer in women has dropped by about half in girls ages 14 to 19,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director. “That decline is even better than we had hoped for.”
Specifically, rates of HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 – the four types covered by the vaccines – have decreased by 56% in young girls.
Those numbers are surprising, said Frieden, because only about a third of girls have gotten all three recommended doses of the vaccine. He suggested that the extra immunity may come from girls who only got one or two doses, or so-called “herd immunity.” That occurs when those who have been vaccinated cause there to be less virus floating around, therefore lowering the risk for those who haven’t been vaccinated.
But despite the good news, Frieden says the CDC had hoped that 80% of girls would be vaccinated by this point, and more needs to be done.
“This should be a wake-up call that we need to increase vaccination rates, because we can protect the next generation of girls from cancer caused by HPV,” said Frieden. “Fifty thousand women alive today will develop cervical cancer that could have been prevented if we had reached our goal of an 80% vaccination rate.”
In March, an article in the journal Pediatrics called on more parents to vaccinate their children, expressing concern that the overwhelming majority of girls had not received the full course of the HPV vaccine. Another study, published late last year, found that receiving the HPV vaccine does not affect teens’ sexual behaviors, a concern for many parents.
Image: Teen getting a shot, via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 1st, 2013
A nationwide “silent and peaceful” protest aimed at the lingerie store Victoria’s Secret is being organized for April 6 by a parenting organization called The Mommy Lobby, in an attempt to convince the company to stop an ad campaign that features teen girls in sexually suggestive settings. The “Bright Young Things” ads advertise the company’s PINK line, which the company says is aimed at young women between ages 18 and 22. More from Fox News:
The marketing campaign, for Victoria’s Secret’s PINK line, first caught the attention of The Mommy Lobby’s CEO Cindy Chafin about a month ago. Since then, her group has been speaking out against the “bright young things” ads, which show younger girls in skimpy underwear with slogans like “Call Me” and “Feeling Lucky?”
The lacy thongs and bikini underwear, one style is called “The Date Panty,” are seemingly aimed at a younger buyer, Chafin said, and the members of The Mommy Lobby felt action needed to be taken.
“Victoria’s Secret, they are a corporation. They are free to run their product. We totally get that, but I think there comes a point where there are boundaries,” she told FOX 411. “Our daughters are not sex objects. We really want them to be innocent and young as long as possible…and [Victoria’s Secret is] not helping that.”
Amid the controversy, Victoria’s Secret posted on their Facebook page that the PINK line is aimed at 18 to 22 year olds.
“In response to questions we recently received, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a brand for college-aged women,” the message read.
But at a recent conference Business Insider reported the company’s CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer said, “When somebody’s 15 or 16-years-old, what do they want to be? They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at PINK.”
Victoria’s Secret also recently teamed up with tween idol Justin Bieber for several of their projects. His voice provides the music for a recent video for the 2013 Swim line, and he performed—along with Rihanna—at this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Image via The Mommy Lobby
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