Orlando Sentinel – 7/10/07 – by Scott Travis

According to research to be presented the 18th International Nursing Research Congress Focusing on Evidence-Based Practice this week in Vienna, a sample of at-risk teenage girls in Florida reported that movies, TV shows, and song lyrics helped shape their impression that casual sex is commonplace and ordinary.

In the study, 20 females ages 14-18 incarcerated at the Okeechobee-based at-risk intervention facility VisionQuest were interviewed by Josie Weiss of Florida Atlantic University-Treasure Coast (FAU-TC). All the teens were sexually experienced; many had had unplanned and unprotected sex. While teachers and parents might promote responsible sexual decision-making, that was not the message that ultimately shaped teens’ attitudes, according to the study.

“It’s contrary to what many adults think. We don’t think sex is normal for teens,” said Weiss, who is an FAU-TC assistant nursing professor. “I think there are high-risk kids everywhere in every community in every school. If this group feels this way (that casual sex is commonplace and ordinary), other kids probably feel this way.”

Weiss hopes the study encourages parents to communicate with their kids about sex to counteract the problem.

Of high school seniors, 60 percent are sexually active, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Sexual activity has increased among youths 14 and younger in recent years, the organization said.