Guilty pleasures reconsidered

Television programs that show highly sexualized teens are viewed by largely adult audiences. What does that say about us?

November 18, 2009 | by Peter Jon Mitchell , Senior Researcher, Institute of Marriage and Family Canada
PDF:  Guilty pleasures reconsidered


  1. Read the Parents Television Council press release here:
  2. Zurbriggen, E.L. et al. (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls: Executive summary. Washington: American Pyschological Association. Retrieved November 9th, 2009 from
  3. Garriguet, D. (2005, May). Early sexual intercourse. Health Reports, Ottawa: Statistics Canada, vol. 6, no. 3, p. 13. Retrieved from
  4. Ward, L.M. (2002). Does television exposure affect emerging adults’ attitudes and assumptions about sexual relationships? Correlational and experimental confirmation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol.31, no.1.
  5. See Boyce, W.F. et al (2008). Characteristics of Canadian youth reporting a very early age of first sexual intercourse. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, vol. 17, no. 3. This study suggests that sexual activity among teens under 15 years of age is often the result of intense social pressure, and commonly less than voluntary. See Rector, R.E. et al. (2003, June 23). The harmful effects of early sexual activity and multiple sexual partners among women: a book of charts. Washington DC: The Heritage Foundation. The study suggests the consequences of early teen sex extend into adulthood. This study, based on US government data of women age 15 to 44, compared outcomes from girls who initiate sex at age 13 and 14 and those who postponed sexual involvement until age 21. The study found girls who initiated sexual activity early were twice as likely to contract an STD, three times as likely to become a single mom, and less than half as likely to be in stable marriages by age 30.
  6. Bibby, R.W. (2009). The emerging millennials. Lethbridge: Project Canada Books, p.51.
  7. Rotermann, M. (2008, September). Trends in teen sexual behavior and condom use.
  8. Health Reports. Vol. 19, no. 3. Retrieved August 10, 2009 from
  9. Bibby, pp. 46-48.
  10. Mitchell, P.J. (2009). Rated PG: How parental influence impacts teen sexual activity.
    Ottawa: Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. Available at
  11. Masten, C.L. et al. (2009) Relative importance of parents and peers. Journal of Early Adolescence, vol. 29, no.6.