I’ve started a book on social science called Connected. (I can’t be bothered getting it and telling you the authors; maybe I’ll update later.)
In it they were talking about a syphilis epidemic which afflicted teenagers a upper-middle class suburb. Syphilis was the symptom of another issue: the suburb had a well-connected but intransitive teenage sexual network and these teenagers often had a liberal (to the point of disgusting the syphilis epidemic’s investigators) attitude to sex. Once they broke up the network into pieces, syphilis stopped spreading.
This book analyses how networks connect people and more importantly, the effects of these networks. It’s interesting to read.
What I want to talk about instead is how to prevent these kinds of attitudes to sex. The two alternatives I can think of are:
- Making sex at teenage years unusual, abnormal and looked down upon
- Removing the perceived positive connotations and glamour of sex; uncensoring sex-related themes and images in media etc.
The first one is the more unviable one out of this pair is the first one: in a sheltered, relatively closed network, it would work (e.g. in our school. i think.), but in normal networks, external influences could easily change this image.
External influences include TV shows and similar media – which is very hard to kill off.
However, the second one is hard to change – because there’s nothing to hide about sex – which is why I think it’s a better idea. The bad side of the second one is mostly convincing parents that this is better for their children.
Which one do you think is more ethical, more likely to work and more sustainable? Can you suggest any more alternatives?