Bush Should Consider Report About Sex on Television in His Sex Education Proposals, Washington Post Editorial Says
A report released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation about sex on television should serve as an "anthropological lesson to President Bush as he puts forth his message on sex education," according to a Washington Post editorial (Washington Post, 2/8). The report, titled "Sex on TV: Content and Context," analyzed for sexual content more than 1,100 programs that appeared on 10 networks in the 2001-2002 television season. The study also analyzed scenes in the programs for mentions of the risks or responsibilities of sexual behavior. According to the study, 64% of the programs included some sexual content, and 15% included mentions of safer sex. Among the top 20 programs popular among teenagers, 83% included some sexual content, and 34% included mentions of safer sex (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/5). According to the editorial, the report provides a "social barometer" -- teen pregnancy rates and sexual activity among teens decreased in the late 1990s and contraceptive use among teens increased. The editorial recommends that Bush consider the results of the report in his proposals for sex education; Bush has proposed to double funds for abstinence-only education. However, the editorial states, "There is no sustained study showing that this type of sex education is effective." The editorial adds, "There is solid and sustained evidence" of the effectiveness of "abstinence first" or "abstinence plus" education, which focuses abstinence before marriage but also provides information on contraceptives. The Post concludes, "They are the kinds of programs that make policymakers uncomfortable, because much like the television networks, they send mixed messages. But at least they meet teenagers where they are naturally headed, which these days is not such a bad place" (Washington Post, 2/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.