TV Rarely Portrays Consequences of Sex

A study conducted by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation found that television shows rarely portray the consequences of sex.

In an analysis of 10 different Los Angeles-area channels including all of the major networks and several popular cable channels, researchers found that over half of all shows and over 2/3 of prime-time shows contained overt sexual content. Only 9% of those programs brought up information about the possible negative consequences of sex, including the risk for unintended pregnancy or contracting sexually-transmitted diseases.

Researchers argue that the role of television in shaping people’s ideas about sex is greater than some might think. “Surveys tell us that young people get a lot of their information and ideas about sex from TV. With the problems facing adolescents today, how sex is shown is just as important as how much sex is shown on TV” said KFF President Drew Altman.

Vicky Rideout, director of KFF’s Program on The Entertainment Media & Public Health, agrees. “Television can play an important role in helping to normalize safer sexual behaviors. This study indicates that some shows are playing such a role today, but that most are not.”


Kaiser Family Foundation - February 9, 1999

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