A new study from the RAND Corporation purports to definitively link racy TV to teen pregnancy. It sounds good, but there’s one teensy weensy problem: We didn’t grow up watching Blair seduce Chuck over martinis on GOSSIP GIRL. The only smooth-talking guy in a bow tie we were exposed to was BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY.
And we’re still young enough to remember one of the things he taught us that applies here: “Correlation does not imply causation.” In other words, even if people that eat Beef Jerky hunt more than people who don’t, you can’t conclude that cured meat makes you a Bambi-clubbing maniac.
Don’t get me wrong, the over-saturation of sexual content certainly has an effect on people’s attitudes toward sex. But, as far as teen pregnancy, isn’t it more likely that children who watch racier programming are generally subject to less parental oversight in general? It’s buried way below the fold in almost every article, but even the study’s authors seem to agree.
As they told MSNBC, “We don’t think that [TV] is necessarily more significant than some of the family and neighborhood factors that can lead to teen pregnancies.” Really? Then why is the headline here “Sex on TV linked to teen pregnancies?”
The study also showed that single-parent homes had a higher rate of teen pregnancy, which also implies that lack of oversight is an issue. And the fact that the study didn’t consider the types of sexual education the teens received? That’s just plain shoddy science.
Finally, you can’t ignore the horrifying subculture of teens who want to get pregnant — so much that they make pacts. We agree with Jezebel — you can’t just blame this bizarre cultural moment on JAMIE-LYNN SPEARS.
Let’s just say Bill Nye’s bow-tie is spinning, and this time, it ain’t a lesson on kinetic energy.
- Andy Phillips