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Hust, Stacey J. T.; Brown, Jane D.; & L'Engle, Kelly Ladin (2008). Boys Will Be Boys and Girls Better Be Prepared: An Analysis of the Rare Sexual Health Messages in Young Adolescents’ Media. Mass Communication and Society, 11, 3-23.


Despite concerns about high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease in the United States, the mass media adolescents attend to most frequently include little accurate information about sexual health. In this study, a preliminary quantitative analysis of the sexual content in four media (television, magazines, music, and movies) popular among 3,261 Black and White adolescents (12-14 years old) found that less than one half of 1% of the content included information about or depictions of sexually healthy behavior. A qualitative analysis of the relatively rare instances of sexual health content revealed that across all four media the sexual health content was ambiguous and/or inaccurate, reinforced traditional gender stereotypes that males seek sex and females are responsible for protection against pregnancy, and presented puberty as funny and contraception as embarrassing or humiliating. These analyses suggest that significant changes in the media's presentations of sexuality would be required if the media are ever to be considered a healthy part of adolescents' sexual socialization.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Mass Communication and Society


Hust, Stacey J. T.
Brown, Jane D.
L'Engle, Kelly Ladin