November 7, 2008
A recently released study published in Pediatrics and sponsored by the Rand corporation has linked watching sex on television and teen pregnancy. Data from a national longitudinal study on adolescents from 12 to 17 years of age were used from over a three year period to measure experience of a teen pregnancy. Adolescents were surveyed to assess whether exposure to sexual content on television predicted subsequent pregnancy for girls or responsibility for pregnancy for boys.
Results showed that teens who were exposed to high levels of sexual content on television, were twice as likely to experience a pregnancy (either directly for girls or to be responsible for a pregnancy for boys) in the subsequent three years, compared with teens watching less sexual content on television.
Points to make regarding and related to the study findings:
- The majority of television shows teens are exposed to with sexual content as described by the study release don’t accurately communicate the health outcomes, either physical or emotional, associated with the high-risk behavior. These can include increased risk for sexually transmitted infections, impaired reproductive health, and negative emotional repercussions. Rather, television shows typically glamorize sex with little, if any, depiction of potential consequences.
- In addition, television shows typically do not portray characters that choose to practice sexual abstinence outside of marriage who do not have the accompanying concerns of their counterparts who engage in sexual activity - two being concerns about possible nonmarital pregnancy and being at increased risk for disease.
- While as the study author states, the amount of sexual content on television has doubled in recent years, prevention messaging has not. Broadcasters need to take a more responsible approach to public health given the current epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases and infections which exists among our young people.
- Accurate health messaging, including the knowledge about the consequences and repercussions of high-risk behavior, such as adolescent pre-marital sex, is critical for prevention efforts. Reinforcement that youth are capable of practicing risk avoidance behavior or sexual abstinence is also key.
- Given the level of exposure teens have to both the television shows measured in the Rand study and similar messaging from other media bombarding youth with sexual content, both parents and health care providers need to emphasize the prevention message, the best of which is risk avoidance or abstinence, and the benefits of practicing it.
Recommended reading for both parents and young adults: “Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children,” by Drs. Joe McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush. Watch for an FRC Book Lecture at the beginning of 2009 at which Drs. McIlhaney and Bush will discuss how new research in the field of neuroscience is shedding light on the impact having sex has on teens and young adults.
November 6, 2008
In yesterday’s Washington Update I wrote about how the exit polling from November 4 clearly shows that the marriage amendments are non-partisan. In 2004 and to a lesser degree in 2006 supporters of various marriage amendments were accused of using them for partisan purposes to help the Republican Party. There is no question that certain Republican candidates, including President Bush who campaigned in support of the amendments, were aided by the amendments’ presence on the ballot. The benefit to the candidates was in proportion to their alignment with the amendments, not with their party allegiance.
President Bush increased his support among African-American voters in Ohio going from 11% nationally to 16% in the Buckeye State, enough to give him the edge in that battleground state and secure a second term. Those gains among minority voters evaporated in this election even though these voters continued to vote to protect marriage from redefinition.
One could argue that the marriage amendments may have actually hurt Republicans in this cycle, especially John McCain. Literally millions of dollars were invested in the efforts to protect marriage in California and Arizona. Thousands of volunteer hours were spent in those two states and Florida to secure passage of these amendments. The McCain campaign was virtually silent on the amendments and as a result received little benefit from the efforts, which was especially significant in the battleground state of Florida.
It is quite possible that a large portion of the time, energy and resources that were spent in this election cycle to protect marriage would have been invested elsewhere had the federal marriage amendment been approved by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2005. The irony is that Sen. McCain opposed the marriage amendment and joined the Democrats and a handful of Republicans in blocking a vote on the amendment. On Election Day the protect marriage movement ran ahead of the Republican candidates.
November 5, 2008
The traditional, historic, and natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman was a winner on Election Day, despite the simultaneous victories for Democrats in capturing the White House and expanding their majority in Congress.
The latest results as of midday on Wednesday (November 5) show that state constitutional amendments to define marriage as a one-man one-woman union had passed in Florida and Arizona and one was likely to pass in California as well.
Although many states that have already adopted such amendments did so fairly handily (especially in 2004), each of the amendments on the ballot in 2008 faced unique challenges.
Florida was the only one of the three states where adoption of the amendment required not just a simply majority of the vote, but a super-majority of 60%. The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment was the only one of the three on the ballot this year that was a “strong” or “two-sentence” amendment, meaning that included language to prevent “domestic partnerships” or “civil unions” as well as same-sex “marriage.” Florida’s amendment campaign was also probably the most under-funded of the three-yet they still managed to clear the higher hurdle set for them, winning 62.1% to 37.9%, with 99% of the vote counted (official results).
Arizona was the only state ever to see a marriage amendment defeated at the polls. In 2006, an earlier “two-sentence” amendment was defeated-ironically, not because of its impact on same-sex couples, but because of publicity about its potential impact on opposite-sex couples who sometimes enter into “domestic partnerships” to avoid losing Social Security benefits to a “marriage penalty.” This year Proposition 102, a revised, “one-sentence” amendment focused only on the definition of civil marriage, was successful by a margin of 56.5% to 43.5%, with 99.1% of the vote in (see official results). Turning the 2006 defeat into a 2008 victory is a great accomplishment for pro-family forces in Arizona.
The most closely-watched and heavily-funded (on both sides) campaign was the one in California. That state’s Supreme Court issued a 4-3 ruling on May 15 of this year that overturned two state laws defining marriage, thus opening the door for same-sex couples to begin receiving marriage licenses a month later. The idea that the amendment would “take away rights” that same-sex couples were already enjoying undoubtedly made passage harder. This was reinforced by the biased language which California Attorney General (and former Governor) Jerry Brown ordered on the ballot, declaring that the amendment primarily “eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry,” rather than more neutrally stating that it “defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Despite this finger on the scale, and a vicious campaign against the amendment that included anti-religious ads, vandalism, and even violence, California’s Proposition 8 appears to have passed, 52.2% to 47.8% with 96.4% of precincts reporting (official results). As I was writing this piece, it was reported on TV that the Associated Press had declared victory for Proposition 8. Congratulations to the people of California for successfully exercising the ultimate check against judicial tyranny in our political system.
The only disappointment on the marriage front was in Connecticut, whose Supreme Court followed the lead of California’s (also by a one-vote margin) on October 10 by fabricating a constitutional “right” to same-sex “marriage.” Connecticut does not have an initiative process whereby the people can place constitutional amendments on the ballot by petition. However, they did have the opportunity yesterday to call for a constitutional convention. Pro-marriage forces hoped that a convention might adopt an initiative process, which in turn could be used to place marriage on the ballot. Unfortunately, this three-step process may not have been understood by the voters, who rejected the idea of a constitutional convention by 59% to 41% (results here).
In addition to the three marriage amendments, however, there was one other victory yesterday for traditional family structures. Arkansas adopted a law (Proposed Initiative Act No. 1) by 56.8% to 43.2% (see here) which prohibits adoption or foster care by persons who are cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage. While this would effectively bar homosexual couples from adopting, it also applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex couples. (Single people would still be allowed to adopt, without regard to sexual orientation). Thus, while this bill is being described as “anti-gay-adoption,” it would be more accurately described as “anti-cohabitation.”
Whatever “mandate” President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress may claim from yesterday’s results, it is clearly not a mandate (even in Florida and California, which Obama carried) to change the definition of marriage or the family.
November 4, 2008
In the latest Mapping America, federal surveys show that adolescents who worship weekly and live in an intact married family are less likely to run away from home than those who do not.