Archive for the ‘Bristol Palin’ Tag

Watching certain TV shows correlates with teen pregnancy

The results of an interesting study that’s been reported on today demonstrates a meaningful positive correlation between the amount of sexual content that teens view on TV and their chances of getting or causing a pregnancy.

The RAND Corp. study is the first of its kind to identify a link between teenagers’ exposure to sexual content on TV and teen pregnancies. The study, released Monday and published in the November edition of the journal Pediatrics, found that teens exposed to high levels of sexual content on television were twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy in the following three years as teens with limited exposure.

The study was paid for by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and follows a 2004 study by some of the same scientists that indicated watching sexual content on TV can make teens more likely to have sex at earlier ages.  The authors, lead by Anita Chandra, point out that teen pregnancy is a complicated issue influenced by many variables.  While the study found that the correlation remained when factors like grades, family structure and parents’ education level were considered, the study didn’t control for other issues, like self esteem, family values, and income.  Looking at those variables would be a good next step.

The researchers are calling for more realistic plotlines in television that address the possible consequences of sexual activity, which is rarely, if ever, shown as leading to unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. “Right now the message teens are getting is that everything is great, and there really are no consequences to sex,” Chandra said.

Two recent high-profile teen pregnancies, those of Jamie Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin, also have some of these qualities.  Both individuals have many advantages in terms of finances and family that will help them as they move forward and raise their children; they won’t be as inconvenienced and limited by having to raise children as many young women would be, possibly giving a false impression on how easy and glamorous it is to raise children as a teen who hasn’t even graduated from high school yet.

Many social conservatives will welcome this news.  If so, they should also accept the massive amounts of data that indicate that abstinence-only sex education doesn’t work to prevent teen pregnancy or STDs.  (See, for instance, here, here, and here.) All sex education includes information on abstinence; abstinence education isn’t the problem, the problem is abstinence-only sex ed that excludes information on everything else—and which frequently even give incorrect information to students.

It seems to me that to have the best chances of teens—and other people—making the best sex-related decisions, we should make sure our schools are giving the best information possible and that those messages aren’t being drowned out by a bunch of misleading and unchecked messages from TV and the rest of our society that give people wrong impressions.  Let’s give people good information, help them think critically about the issues involved, and then trust them to make their own decisions.

Palin picking process

Well, more information has come to light on Sarah Palin, Alaska’s governor and presumptive GOP Vice Presidential nominee  (previously blogged about here and here).  The most salacious detail is that Palin’s 17-year old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant.  This detail is newsworthy–but only barely–on account of the culture wars which often play a role in politics.  I’m sure the past few days have been terrible for her, and hopefully the press will leave Miss Palin alone henceforth.  That said, McCain has been vague about when and how he learned of the pregnancy, which, since it is potentially embarrassing, is the sort of thing a person needs to mention when he or she is being considered for the Veep spot.

The New York Times reports that the vetting process for Ms. Palin doesn’t appear to have been very thorough.  Party, government, and business leaders in Alaska report not having been contacted for information on her background, nor was a background investigation conducted on her by the government agency which normally handles that and did handle that for other possible candidates. 

The aforementioned article puts forth a good case that the vetting process for Palinwas woefully inadequate and that her selection was made at the last moment in an attempt to shake up the race and placate the social conservatives who have so much control over the Republican Party.  Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney would not have stirred things up enough, according to the Times article.

Apparently, McCain preferred either his good friend Joe Lieberman, Independent Senator from Connecticut who caucuses with the Democrats, or Tom Ridge, former Governor of Pennsylvania and adviser to the McCain campaign.  However, both of those gentlemen are pro-choice on the abortion issue, and thus totally unacceptable to social conservative power brokers in the party.

Tom Ridge would make a totally kick awesome Vice President.  As indicated, he has a sterling resume: he was twice elected Governor of vote-rich swing state Pennsylvania, in 1994 and 1998, before resigning to become President Bush’s Assistant for Homeland Security and then as the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security.  He thus has experience as a chief executive at the state level and as an executive official at the Federal level.  He earlier served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983-95.  After leaving government, he has served on the boards of Hershey and Home Depot, gaining private-sector business experience. 

But, he’s pro-choice so none of that matters and we get a small state governor with 20 months of experience after being a small town mayor, who is now under investigation for possibly misusing her power.  This reminds me of the Harriet Myers nomination, which I opposed at the time and was glad to see withdrawn.  I’m also opposed to this nomination: Sarah Palin, despite her legitimate strengths and accomplishments, should not be on the Republican ticket.  She’d make a great convention keynote speaker, but she needs more grooming and experience for any higher office.  Her nomination is a gimmick; do you really think there is any chance she’d be the nominee if she were a man?  I sure don’t.

My best wishes to Bristol Palin, her fiance, and their unborn child.  Congratulations–and God bless.