Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/Foundations Table of Contents/Chapter 5/5.6.2

Sex, Drugs, and Music
By ReAnne Shields

Learning TargetsEdit

  • Readers will be able to list the different teaching options for sex education.
  • Readers will be able to identify reasons why adolescents are involved in sex and drugs.
  • Readers will understand the different influences adolescents encounter.


For many years popular culture has had such a strong influence on children. The music that children listen to, the movies they watch, and most importantly their peers, all of which have influenced children in ways that parents could not imagine. It has become a growing concern for many parents especially in modern society to know where their children are going for security and guidance if they are not going to the parents or family members. With all the teen pregnancies occurring, children having access to drugs, it is extremely important for parents to know what and who are getting into the minds of their children.

School is supposed to be a safe place for children to learn history, math, English, art, and reading, not a place to learn about the different kinds of drugs people can get a hold of, how much alcohol they are able to consume, or why they should have sex now instead of later from their peers. It has been reported statistically that, “32.2% of adolescents had their first alcoholic drink by the age of 13 and 50% of teens feel pressured in sex and relationships” (, 2009). But school is also suppose to be a safe place where children are able to grow socially with their peers. Now where does that leave the children? As society is growing and changing, parents are still trying to figure out how and why their children are being influenced so greatly by their peers and popular culture. Let’s take a look at sex, drugs, and popular music in and out of the school setting.

Sex, sex, it's all about S E XEdit

Sex education in schools has become a very controversial topic. Some believe that when sex education is being taught, the information given is the cause for more sexual interactions among children, because they are being educated on all aspects of sex. Others believe that if sex education should be taught, teachers should only educate the students about abstinence. If abstinence is the only topic being spoken about, the belief is that there will be a decrease in pregnancy rates and STD rates. Due to the fact that most students by time they reach a sex education class, they have already had intercourse, the abstinence education seems non-effective, but some schools have implemented a program where they still teach abstinence and how to safely protect themselves if they are sexually active or plan to become sexually active. To see which states require sex education, or abstinence education or both, can be located at this website:

One of the main influences on children are their peers. If his or her peers are engaging in sexual activity, it is then “cool” for everyone else to be engaged in sexual activity including your child. Usually those children that are very involved with their friends, tend to begin dating much sooner and end up in romantic relationships (Jayson, 2008).

According to Health Care Industry, “adolescents who initiate sexual activity at young ages tend to have more sexual partners and use condoms less than those who initiate sex later…” (Sieving, 2006). This explains the high pregnancy rates among youth in America.

During these middle school and high school years children look to their friends before anyone else, for the simple reason that their friends understand how they are feeling and what they are going through better than any parent or adult can. Moreover, children look to their peers for acceptance and one’s perception of his or hers behaviors and attitudes (Sieving, 2006).

Not only do peers have an influence on children, but the media also has a huge impact. After a phone survey was done on 1000 teens, it was recorded that girl’s ages 14–19 who listened to pop music, hip hop music, or read woman magazines, were associated with having had sex (AACAP, 2004). This survey and many other studies show the effects that media has had on teens and sex. It has also been suggested that due to the provocative lyrics, the sexual content on how girls should act, and what feelings boys should have lead to sexual intercourse the many STD’s and pregnancies among teens. Media seems to play a big role in the lives of many adolescents.

D R U G SEdit

Approximately 30.2% of young adults are given, offered, or sold drugs in high school and middle school.

Among recent inhalant initiates, 19.4% used inhalants on 13 or more days in the past year (NSDUH, 2006)

Drugs are defined as “any chemical substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function.” (wikipedia, 2009) In any health education class, children learn this basic definition, what the different drugs are and their effects on the body. What seems to be the best teaching tool for drugs in the school is the well-known D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. This curriculum is mostly geared towards elementary students, and teaches them to stay away from all drugs that are harmful. According to researchers, students who have participated in the DARE program, are 5 times less likely to engage in drug related activities as they get older. (D.A.R.E, 2008)

Along with the DARE program, school districts follow the “zero tolerance” act. With this act, any students caught with any drugs, alcohol, weapons, or anything tobacco related, regardless of how little it may seem, are punished. The question in this case is, will punishing students actually have an effect on drug usage among adolescents? Well many school districts feel as though it is important and will help get rid of the disruptive students in the classroom settings, which will lead to less drugs and alcohol in the schools. (Skiba, 1999)

Most children that are involved with drugs are usually said to be: depressed, have a family background of drug use and feel as though drug use is normal, has a need to fit in with their peers, or they have low self-esteem. During these adolescent years a lot of experimentation with drugs happens, simply because they are at that age where they think they are indestructible from any consequences. (AACAP, 2008) One of the more popular drugs in recent years that have been experimented with are inhalants. Inhalants being the 3rd widely most used drugs among adolescents are very easy to get a hold of.

Adolescents are using the most common everyday items to inhale such as glue, shoe polisher, cleaners, lighter fluid, and degreasers, all of which are usually found in the home, or could be bought in any store. It has also been reported that most adolescents that have tried inhalants, have already experienced drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, and smoking cigarettes.(NSDUH, 2006) But its these moments of experimentation that may hinder an adolescents growth socially, or could be a one time event for self knowledge. It's always up to the adolescent what they learn and do from their experimenting.

What’s that you’re singing?Edit

“Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about me and you, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about sex…” These are lines from a very popular hip-hop song done by Salt and Pepper in the early 90’s. As sex was beginning to become an issue in the early 90’s, many realized that adolescents were paying close attention to music lyrics. That is why this song by Salt n’ Pepper was so significant at that time. The song basically said, to talk about everything before making such a big step in one’s life; make sure you both know everything good and bad, benefits and consequences about sex and each other. Not too many songs in any genre that are promoting no sex or safe sex.

On the other hand adolescents are hearing lyrics like “When it comes to sex don’t test my skills, cause my head game will have you head over heels. Guys wanna wife me and give me the ring. I’ll do it anywhere, anyhow; I’m down for anything…” this coming from a female rap start, many know as Lil Kim. With such a message, many adolescent would not loose the idea of having sex. Many songs sound like this one and they give adolescents more reason to engage in sexual intercourse. According to one research team, they found that with the explicit lyrics, there was an increase in sexual interactions among adolescents (Martino, 2006).

Because music is more accessible in today’s society, there are many more music options that adolescents can get a hold of. It is seen everyday in the schools how much of an impact rap music in particular has on adolescents. Much rap and hip hop songs focus mostly on wealth, which is attained by the “thug life”. Thug life is basically gangs, drug dealing and larceny (Duncan, 2009). These images are also glamorized through music videos. Adolescents are able to view a number of things such as: graphic violence, sex that focuses on devaluing women, violence toward women, lyrics showing suicide as an alternative solution (AACAP, 2004). Along with that when there are artist who believe "What else can you rap about but money, sex, murder or pimping? There isn’t a whole lot else going on in our world. Rapper Ja Rule"(Strasburger, 2004). With all this in the hands of adolescents, it is important for parents to try and pay close attention to what their children are listening to. Although it seems as though popular music has a strong hold on children, parents and their peers have just as much of an impact on them.


For information on how to deal with teen issues such as sex and drugs or peer pressure visit:

Being in middle school and high school, those are the years that are easily swayed by parents, peers, and popular culture. It is all about what aspects are helping sway adolescents and in what direction. Popular culture and peers have the largest impact on adolescents, because they are at that age where they feel as though they will be better identified in society, they will fit in with all that is going on around them (Skiba, 1999). The facts that they learn in school and from parents sometimes are not enough.

As someone who has already been down that road, the best influence in an adolescent’s life is their parents and peers. I feel as though it is up to the parents to take control of what their children are exposed to and how they handle that exposure. As for their peers, with the guidance of their parents adolescents should be able to figure out who would have a better impact on them, be able to weed out the bad friends and stick with the friends that will continue to help them grow socially in a positive direction. Unfortunately, even though some adolescents have this structure, they are still swayed very strongly by popular culture. Also, I feel as though for the education that is taught on sex and drugs, it is up to adolescents to take that information in and use it for their benefits. But many shrug off the facts and go about their ways. So no matter how hard the schools try the enforce no sex and staying away from drugs most students will do what their peers are doing, and what popular culture says is “cool.”

Analysis QuestionsEdit

1. What is the percentage of teens that feel pressured to be in relationships or have sex?

a. 25%

b. 87.5%

c. 15%

d. 50%

2. Children who are usually involved with drugs are said to:

a. Be straight A students

b. Be very active in their community

c. Have a need to fit in with their peers

d. Enjoy playing sports

3. In states that are allowed to teach sex education which topics do they discuss?

a. HIV/AID’s and STD’s

b. Abstinence

c. Contraception

d. All of the Above

4. Which one of these song lyrics would make an adolescent think it is “cool” to drink alcohol?

a. “I wanna li-li-li-lick you from your head to your toes…”(Ludacris, 2000)

b. “you bout to buy a ring she needs tha finer things gucci designer framez…”(Ludacris, 2003)

c. “Okay we popping champagne like we won a championship game…okay start straight shots and then pop bottles…”(Birdman, 2007)

d. “As my Daytons spin, lowrider, sittin low hittin corners so hard you can taste my rims…”(P.Diddy, 2006)


American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (2004) “The Influence of Music and Music Videos.” Retrieved February 2, 2009 from

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (2008) “Teens: Alcohol and other Drugs.” Retrieved February 2, 2009 from

Birdman and Lil' Wayne. (2007). "Pop Bottles." Retrieved February 3, 2009 from

D.A.R.E. Retrieved February 3, 2009 from

Duncan, Charles. (September 25, 2007). “The Influence of Rap Music upon Youth.” Retrieved February 2, 2009 from

Jayson, Sharon. (September 9, 2008) “How the USA compares in teaching Teens About Sex.” USA Today. Retrieved February 2, 2009 from

Ludacris. (2000). "What's your Fantasy?" Retrieved February 3, 2009 from

Ludacris. (2003). "Splash Waterfalls." Retrieved February 3, 2009 from

Martino, Steven C., Rebecca L. Collins, Marc N. Elliott, Amy Strachman, David E. Kanouse and Sandra H. Berry. (2006). “Exposure to Degrading Versus Non-degrading Music Lyrics and Sexual Behavior Among Youth.” Pediatrics. 118. e430-e441.

P. Diddy. (2006). "We Gon' Make it." Retrieved February 3, 2009 from

Skiba, Russ and Reece Peterson. (January 1999).“The Dark Side of Zero Tolerance: Can Punishment Lead to Safe Schools?.” Retrieved January 28, 2008 from

Strasburger, Victor C. MD. (2004) “Children, Adolescents, and the Media.” Current Problem Pediatric Adolescent Health Care. 34. 54-113.

Sieving, Renee E., Eisenberg, M E., Pettingell, S., and Skay, C. (2006) “Friends Influence on Adolescent’ first sexual intercourse.” Health Care Industry. Retrieved January 31, 2009 from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). “Characteristics of Recent Adolescent Inhalant Initiates.” National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 11.


1)D 2)C 3)D 4)C

  Rate This!