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Science and sex stuff 10/11/07

November 10th, 2007

Dr Petra

Here are some of the sex/science stories that caught my attention recently. Click on the blue titles to read the full story….

Does Hip Hop music cause unsafe sex?

A report in the New York Times focuses on research from Columbia University where Miguel A. Muñoz-Laboy has been studying youth culture and the impact of Hip Hop music. Some existing research has argued rap music can be blamed for everything from gun crime to teenage pregnancy, claiming a direct link between listening to music and teenage risky behaviour. However, this current study found that teens had a more complex link with music, could critically engage with it, and showed problematic sexual encounters were more likely to be linked to alcohol and drug misuse and peer pressure. The research suggests parents and sex educators should focus more on the problem areas of teen life (drugs/alcohol and peer pressure) whilst encouraging teens to think critically and carefully about the messages their music is sending them. Particularly about attitudes towards women.

Schoolboy in stripper spanking shocker

Well it might sound like many a man’s fantasy, but this week reports of a strippogram gone wrong have led to debates on the ethics of strippers and the responsibility of parents. A mother booked a gorrillagram for her son’s 16th birthday and asked his teacher if the prank could be played on the lad at school. The teacher agreed. But there was a mistake at the agency and a stripping policewoman was sent instead. She stripped in the classroom and led the lad around on a collar and lead. Although the media has treated this as lighthearted, this could have been very distressing and humiliating for the boy and his peers. It’s stories like this that give strippers a bad name. I mean if you take a booking and find yourself at a school your first thought should be to ring your agency, not to go to the classroom and lead a child around on a lead. I expect all good strippers and dancers are fuming at this. Meanwhile the school and agency are left red faced.

Abstinence only programmes are not successful

This is something that research has been indicating for some while, but a new review from the US’s National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has shown that programmes that focus directly on promoting abstinence are not successful in preventing either delaying sex or reducing unsafe sexual practices. They found schemes that educate youth on contraception and sexual health as well as providing messages about delaying sex until you are ready were more effective. Unfortunately in the UK and US as well as other parts of the world there are a number of very vocal groups pressing abstinence programmes and we need to focus on using an evidence based perspective here so we deliver clear information to young people that tells them positive things about safer sex, and empowers them to have sex when they feel ready – not when they’re coerced into it.

Wish you were here?

Well, we pretty much already knew this but another study confirms today how many young people take risks when they go on holiday. The research, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections found that many young people have sex with a new partner when on holiday and are often poorly informed about sexual health risks. Luckily new programmes are being put into place to try and educate people about managing their own sexual health when on holiday. But if you think you’ve come back from your summer break with more than a tan (even if it’s fading now) then you can get advice, information and details of your nearest treatment centre from Condom Essential Wear. Remember many STIs are symptomless so use condoms when you’re having sex with new partners (or existing partners if you’re unsure of each other’s sexual history).

The trials and tribulations of HIV research

PlusNews, the online HIV/AIDS news and analysis service has a great collection of essays around the practicalities of HIV research. In their press release they explain…
We’ve long known how to protect ourselves from HIV, but the options are limited and not available to everyone. While science is unlikely to yield any silver bullet solutions, new prevention technologies like vaccines and microbicides could provide some additional weapons.

The road to developing these new technologies, however, has been a long and bumpy one. A number of potential HIV prevention products have made it out of the laboratory and are now being tested on human volunteers all over Africa – the continent worst affected by the pandemic. But running such trials has raised an array of logistical, scientific, ethical and communications challenges, which the research community continues to grapple with.

PlusNews, the online HIV/AIDS news and analysis service, invites you to view its latest in-depth series: ‘Trials and Tribulations of HIV Prevention Research’. The series includes six original features that take a closer look at how trials are designed, what motivates people to volunteer for them, the importance of involving local communities and what exactly went wrong in the case of the microbicide trials in South Africa that were halted in January of this year.

Youth more interested in social networking than porn

Social networking sites are more appealing to 18-24 year olds and it seems that porn sites are feeling the pinch. This report from adult site Adult Video News explains this new trend. It’s something for those carrying out sex education to think about since if people are happier talking online than looking at porn they’re also going to be more interested in social network sites than sex ed ones. So if you’re wanting youth to pay attention to your messages you may be better off taking your message to them via social networks.

Good news for nursing mums – breastfeeding won’t cause your boobs to droop
There’s been a lot in the press recently about breastfeeding (how it increases your kids IQ, helps with bonding etc). Still lots of mums are put off breastfeeding because they find it difficult or painful, they’re not taught how to do it correctly, they feel bad if they can’t do it and as a culture we’re not used to seeing nursing mums about any more. One other thing that puts mums off is the worry that breastfeeding will cause their boobs to sag. Sadly a number of celebrities have reinforced this idea recently (while promoting bottle feeding). But the good news is that research has officially proved breastfeeding doesn’t cause saggy boobs. Which is great news for mums and babies everywhere. If you want to know more about breastfeeding you might find this blog entry useful.

Should parents be told if their kids are having sex?

This debate feature from Scotland on Sunday reports on a view from a parent, medic and teenager. It’s interesting to read their different views as well as the many comments readers have added. In an ideal world teenagers would postpone sex until they felt ready for it and would be told about sex correctly by a parent who would also be supportive if told their child was having a sexual relationship. But in reality we know many parents are ill informed about sex, may give their children misleading information, may feel unsupported in talking about sex and may punish their child if it’s revealed sexual activity is happening. We need sex education for parents so they can help their child learn about sex and develop the confidence and assertiveness skills needed so they don’t get pressured into unwanted activity. We also need to enable parents to spot if a child or teen is being exploited or abused and get help for them if needed. But we must never forget some parents are unable to care for their children in this way, and may be abusers of their children. So we have to be able to offer young people confidential information without informing their parents, but try where possible to enable a teen to talk to their folks about what’s going on in their lives..

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