Approximately half of all American adolescents have experienced coitus by 17 years of age.1 The majority say their first experience was not anticipated. More than 85% have first coitus before seeking professional advice about prevention of pregnancy or infection. The earlier the first coitus, the longer the interval until such advice is sought. The consequences of unprotected coitus include pregnancy, often unwanted, and exposure to sexually transmitted infections, which increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome, as well as damage to the reproductive system, which could result in sterility.2 Female adolescents who have sexual intercourse, are sexually promiscuous, and have repeated genital infections have an increased risk for cervical cancer.3 Teenagers are most likely to risk these consequences of sexual intercourse when they lack knowledge about methods of preventing pregnancy and infection, have received limited encouragement for responsible sexual behavior, and/or hold Unwarranted fears about the risks of specific contraceptive methods.4
THE MEDIA AND SEXUAL LEARNING
The average American family watches six to seven hours of television and 70 to 90 commercials daily.5 Teenagers average 24 hours of television viewing and 21 hours of radio listening a week.5 Annually, American youths spend more time watching television than they spend in school. Although the specific impact of television on psychosexual development and sexual behavior has not been documented, there is strong evidence that television influences attitudes, values, behaviors, and socialization.6
The American television audience is exposed to more than 9,000 sexual references, innuendoes, and behaviors each year.5 In many households, access to cable television and home videos has increased the exposure to more explicit sexual messages.
- Copyright © 1986 by the American Academy of Pediatrics