Doing some reading this morning, I came across this interesting bit of research (via this blog):
"(Among young adolescents) high exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex in popular music was independently associated with higher levels of sexual behavior. In fact, exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex was one of the strongest associations with sexual activity..." - Science Daily
This study seems to underscore the "DUH" factor that would come with simple common sense. If kids are listening to lots of verbage that talks frankly and graphically about sex, they're going to be interested in having sex.
Read that quote again: the highest association with sexual activity in the study group (ninth grade kids, by the way) was "exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex." It's not R movies, it's not TV, it's not what their friends are doing or not doing - it's what they're listening to.
Go read the article here.
And that adjective "degrading"? Think that's off the spectrum? Think again. Directly from the blog I read today, here's a few choice lyrics from the artists who were the nominees for Nickelodeon's 2009 Kids' Choice Awards:
“Now take it off while I watch you perform.” (Suga Mama)
“Let’s get and make love on Venus.” (Gimme Whatcha Got)
“So maybe we can go to first base because I feel you.” (Teenage Love Affair)
“Spend the night with me and I’ll rock you.” (Rock You)
“I kissed a girl just to try it/I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it.” (I Kissed a Girl)
“I can get off when you ain’t around.” (I Don’t Need a Man)
“What you got up in them jeans? Put it on me, or get lonely.” (Lemme Get That)
“That little p**** l***** finger f***** h* a** c***.” (F*** U Blind)
“She was s***** on me. And I was l***** on her.” (69)
I'm not advocating that we boycott Beyonce - I love some of her music. I like Chris Brown. I am not suggesting that anybody ought to ban kids from listening to this stuff. But we'd better not stick our heads in the sand about the power of what's on their iPod.
I'm writing as a parent here. I have four teenagers, and one of my greatest hopes is that they make good, healthy choices as they mature - spiritual, emotional and physical. They don't live in a cave - they're exposed to a good bit of popular culture. They love music; it's a powerful influence on them and an outlet for expression. And as a parent, I've got to be informed about what it is that's influencing them so powerfully.
I want to influence my kids against having sex - not because it's sinful and it will send them to the pit of hell, but because of the consequences - spiritual, emotional and physical. I'm not sure I can identify one single benefit of early sexual activity, other than the instantaneous physical gratification. It's all downhill from there. I want the best for my kids, and having sex at this point in their lives is not it. They have the power to choose; they can make the opportunity should they so desire - but I've got to do the best I can to guide and influence them to make healthy decisions. That's my responsibility.
Maybe you disagree with me as a parent; maybe you're happy for your kid to be getting some at the tender age of 15. Or 14. Plenty of them are, you know.
Check out their playlist. Start a conversation. Have a frank discussion. Talk about it. It's worth the effort. And, if you're a parent, it's your job.