Collins found that the most powerful countervailing influence on teen sexual activity is, unsurprisingly, parental involvement. Having parents who monitored their teen's activities, having parents who were more educated or who were clearly disapproving of teenagers having sexual relations, and teens living with both parents were all strong indicators of delayed sexual activity.
But if parents are the solution, they not the root problem. It is the producers of the raunch who are most responsible.
And yet it's also not a surprise that Hollywood did not want to take one iota of responsibility for the behavior for what their ever-saucier attempts to grab audience actually do to people after the TV is turned off. They fully expect that the young viewer goes out and buys Starburst fruit chews and eats at McDonald's after watching the ads on television, but if they are influenced to have sex after seeing it on television, the tube couldn't possibly be the cause. "With all due respect to RAND, we do not believe that one show can alter a person's sexual behavior," huffed Jeff Cusson, a spokesman for HBO, the horny home base of "Sex and the City."
That's one tired Hollywood line. The other is a dodge: It's up to parents, not us. "Some TV may be too provocative for kids, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be on the air," claimed Todd Leavitt, president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. "As the father of three daughters, I believe parents have an obligation to monitor their kids' TV viewing."
The Hollywood logic is inescapably empty. Let's drop the age limits for alcohol consumption and say it's up to parents to stop teens from hitting the bars. Why the need for driver's licenses? Parents should monitor this, too.
And while we're at it, let's resuscitate those Joe Camel tobacco ads and plaster them on TV, since television isn't responsible for influencing behavior.