Rap Music Can Lead Teenagers to Have Sex at an Early Age, Study Reveals

rap musicAttention parents! You might not believe it but a new study has warned that listening to rap music frequently could lead your teenage children to have early sex.

According to researchers from the University of Texas’ health science centre at Houston (UTHealth), rap music influences adolescents’ mindset about what their peers are doing. Since rap music is more likely to have sexually explicit content, it leaves an impression on youth that their young counterparts are having sex, the research revealed.

In their study, the researchers found that when middle school youth listened to rap music for three or more hours each day, they were more likely to believe that their peers are having sex and subsequently more likely to initiate sex by ninth grade.

“Rap music influences your beliefs about what you think your peers are doing,” said Kimberly Johnson-Baker, lead author and faculty associate at the UTHealth School of Public Health.

“It’s a norming agent that tells you that certain things are ok, like drinking alcohol or having sex. It gives you the idea that everyone is doing it,” she added. “And the more you’re listening to it, the more you’re conforming, so you could see how it would set up a belief about what your peers are doing.”

For the study, Johnson-Baker and her colleagues looked at an analysis of 443 youth (predominantly black and Hispanic) who participated in a longitudinal evaluation study in Houston. The participating middle school students were surveyed about the amount of time they spend everyday listening to rap music and whether they believe their peers are having sex.

The same students were again surveyed in ninth grade, this time asking them about whether they had initiated sex.

The researchers found, the survey respondents who spent three hours or more listening to rap music each day in seventh grade were having 2.6 times higher chances of having sex two years later.

When the researchers adjusted data for age, gender and perceived peer behaviour, this association seemed to be weaker.

Further, the team found that youth who believed their peers were having sex were 2.5 times more likely to initiate sex, even after adjusting for the additional factors.

Johnson-Baker emphasised that when youth listen to some sexually explicit lyrics in a rap song, they often confirm it with their friends whether such behaviour is happening around them. And if their friends confirm it, adolescents are more likely to initiate sex.

“Perceived peer sex is the most powerful predictor of future sex and addressing perceived peer behaviour with youth is really important,” Johnson-Baker noted.

“Parents can play a more proactive role by having open conversations with their kids regarding the themes in rap music while setting clear expectations for responsible sexual and dating behaviour,” the team concluded.

Johnson-Baker and colleagues reported their study findings in a paper published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.