« Celebrity Obits | Main | Has Ayn Rand Gone Mainstream? »

January 31, 2005

More On Teen Sexual Behavior

Last week I mentioned this study of teen sexual behavior at a Midwestern high school. I was having trouble visualizing the "map" described in the article. This morning I found a graphic (click for larger image):

Adolescent.jpg

The accompanying article also answered a few nagging questions I'd had about the methodology:


Researchers interviewed 832 of the approximately 1,000 students at the school. Students were asked to identify their sexual and romantic partners in the past 18 months from a roster of other students attending their school. (Romantic relationships were ones in which the students named the other as a romantic partner. Non-romantic sexual partners were those in which the participants said they had sexual intercourse, but were not dating).

Slightly more than half of all students reported having sexual intercourse, a rate comparable to the national average. The researchers mapped the network structure of the 573 students involved in a romantic or sexual relationship.

Moody said the results generate a snapshot of the network of romantic and sexual relations among teens attending the school in this 18-month period –- the first such image of an entire population such as this.

The most striking feature of the network was a single component that connected 52 percent (288) of the romantically involved students at Jefferson. This means student A had relations with student B, who had relations with student C and so on, connecting all 288 of these students.
“From a student’s perspective, a large chain like this would boggle the mind,” Moody said. “They might know that their partner had a previous partner. But they don’t think about the fact that this partner had a previous partner, who had a partner, and so on."

“What this shows, for the first time, is that there are many of these links in a chain, going far beyond what anyone could see and hold in their head. Many of the students only had one partner. They certainly weren’t being promiscuous. But they couldn’t see all the way down the chain.”

Like the prior article, this one emphasized that teens view dating their friends' exes as 'incestuous'

The practical result from such a rule is that no cores form, and that long, chain-like networks form instead. That has important implications for preventing the spread of STDs in teenage populations, according to Moody, Bearman and Stovel.

In adult populations, in which there are cores of sexually active people who are the main conduits of disease, you can focus education and other efforts to this select group.

But in the case of adolescents, “there aren’t any hubs to target, so you have to focus on broad-based interventions,” Moody said. “You can’t just focus on a small group.”

As I mentioned last week, perhaps something to talk about with your teens.

Posted by Cassandra at January 31, 2005 06:37 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/270

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference More On Teen Sexual Behavior:

» NETWORK EXTERNALITIES from Cold Spring Shops
Villainous Company has been following a recently released study of sexual dynamics in a high school. [Read More]

Tracked on January 31, 2005 05:17 PM

» No kind of high school I went to... from George Gaskell
From the American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 100, No. 1. "Chains of affection: The structure of adolescent romantic and sexual networks," Bearman PS, Moody J, Stovel K. From Villanous Company.... [Read More]

Tracked on February 2, 2005 01:43 PM

» No kind of high school I went to... from George Gaskell
From the American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 100, No. 1. "Chains of affection: The structure of adolescent romantic and sexual networks," Bearman PS, Moody J, Stovel K. From Villanous Company.... [Read More]

Tracked on February 2, 2005 02:02 PM

» No kind of high school I went to... from George Gaskell
From the American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 100, No. 1. "Chains of affection: The structure of adolescent romantic and sexual networks," Bearman PS, Moody J, Stovel K. [Click for larger.] From Villanous Company.... [Read More]

Tracked on February 2, 2005 02:07 PM

Comments

Plainly, there are no gay teens in the subject high school. Is this a fluke? A failure in methodology? Or a representation of reality?

Posted by: spd rdr at January 31, 2005 07:48 AM

My guess is a failure in methodology. The Unit and I were picking apart the study over a few beers when I told him about the original article - it raised more questions than it answered.

I used to tutor psych and soc sci students in stats and it never failed to amaze me how badly they'd design a lot of their studies. Their thinking was really disjointed, and I could never get them to see that you can't design a study that always proves your hypothesis - you're supposed to set it up so that you find out whether it's true or false.

But then this is really hard stuff to do in real life - like the old saying goes, something about plans being "formless and rife with assumptions..."

Posted by: Cassandra at January 31, 2005 07:59 AM

Au contrair spd rdr. Some fine female in the upper right hand corner of the graphic (one over from the far right corner graphic) has 4 male, and 1 female partner. She was either high, or she is on her way to a fun filled college life, followed by a drop out and move to the San Fernando Valley film industry.

Not to be outdone, the girl on the far right corner graphic has 6 male partners. Funny, she isn't sleeping with people in the big chain. She must be the geek slut. The big chain has one stud with 7 female partners - that was the most I saw.

Posted by: KJ at January 31, 2005 08:03 AM

My goodness, your pattern-recognition skills are very well-developed, Mr. J....

That was one question the Unit and I had - what was the time span covered (6 months isn't very long). I imagine a very different pattern might emerge if you covered a longer time period.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 31, 2005 08:17 AM

Geek slut? I find that insulting to sluts everywhere. None of us are geeks, thank you very much. We don't eat meat nor have we gone over to the dark side of the PC world. We love our iMacs
and iPods and well, anything Mac since it doesn't reek of Bill Gates.

And I didn't 'have' any until I was in college, majoring in stats and then becoming an adjunct professor of psych stats in marketing.

Posted by: Geek Slut at January 31, 2005 08:33 AM

I just noticed two blue dots connected at a branch of the big circle - the long branch going off the right of the circle, the second cluster towards the top. So we have one male/male and one female/female hook up in this school. I'm betting this is reality outside of the decedant "big cities" but that's just me.

Posted by: KJ at January 31, 2005 11:04 AM

It is all a red neck red state plot. When will you inbred types learn? Think outside the circle?

Posted by: Blue state loser at January 31, 2005 11:40 AM

Good eyes, KJ.
I think that the whole purpose of this study was to give dirty old men an opportunity to talk to young girls about sex. Well, maybe not the whole purpose, but certainly one of the side benefits.

Now I am going home to lock my daughters in the closet.

Posted by: spd rdr at January 31, 2005 12:42 PM

A friend of mine had a great idea, unfortunately impossible to implement: children should be locked in the deep freeze from the age of eleven until twenty or so.
It would save us all (including the teens) so much grief...

Posted by: MrsPurpleRaider at January 31, 2005 10:34 PM

Great - then we have lots of frigid 20 year olds. How is that good for college boys?

Posted by: KJ at February 1, 2005 02:08 PM

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)