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U.S. Pediatricians Decry Media's Portrayal of Sex
Date:8/31/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- The nation's leading group of pediatricians has issued a strong policy statement directed toward pediatricians, parents and the media on the danger of messages American teens and children are getting about sex from television, the Internet and other media outlets.

The statement, Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media, was published online Aug. 30 and in the September print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

"The media represents arguably the leading sex educator in America today," said Dr. Victor Strasburger, the lead author of the paper. "We do such a poor job of educating kids about sex in sex education classes in school, and parents are notoriously shy about talking to kids about sex. The media picks up the slack."

Seventy percent of teen shows contain sexual content, Strasburger added, "and less than 10 percent of that content involves what anyone would classify as being responsible content. There's no mention of contracting an STD [sexually transmitted disease] or the need to wait to have sex until later."

The United States leads the western world in teen pregnancy rates and American teens have an alarmingly high rate of STDs -- one in four children.

Meanwhile, U.S. children spend seven hours and more a day with various types of often-sexually explicit media, including music, movies, television shows, magazines and the Internet.

"The research shows us that the portrayal of sex in the media is really unrealistic. It's unhealthy. It doesn't consider the consequences of sexual behavior," said Alan Delamater, professor and director of child psychology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "This is what our kids are growing up thinking. This is what sex is about. To deny its impact is ignorant because there's so much knowledge of it at this point."

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