As the Washington Post reported earlier this week, a recent study that correlates pregnancy rates among sexually active teens to the amount of TV sex they watched disregards a key issue: teen access to contraceptives and information on contraception. According to the study, which was published in Pediatrics, the more sexual content on TV that sexually active teens watch, the more likely they are to get pregnant. The study did not take into account the kind of sex education teens had received.
The use of contraception is far more likely to affect teen pregnancy rates than exposure to sexual content on television. As the Alan Guttmacher Institute found: “The majority of the decline in teen pregnancy rates is due to more consistent contraceptive use; the rest is due to higher proportions of teens choosing to delay sexual activity.”
Under abstinence-only curricula, many teens are not getting the information they need to make healthy sexual decisions. Teens taught abstinence-only are, in fact, more likely to have unprotected sex when they do become sexually active than their counterparts who receive comprehensive sex education. Teaching teens to use contraceptives almost certainly would do more to reduce teen pregnancy rates than shutting off ‘Gossip Girl.’