Rap music is considered to be the most explicit genre of all times and now, a team of researchers has found that there is cause for concern when it comes to teenagers listening to rap.
In a University of Texas Health (UTHealth) study, a secondary analysis of 443 predominantly black and Hispanic youth enrolled in a longitudinal evaluation study in Houston showed that youngsters who listened to rap music three hours or more each day in seventh grade, were 2.6 times more likely to report having had sex two years later.
The association became weaker when factors like age, gender and perceived peer behaviour were taken into account. However, researchers found that the association was partially mediated by perceived peer sexual behaviour because youth who believed their peers were having sex were 2.5 times more likely to initiate sex, regardless of the additional factors.
Lead author Kimberly Johnson-Baker said that rap music influences your beliefs about what you think your peers are doing. 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. 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.
Perceived peer sex is the most powerful predictor of future sex and addressing perceived peer behaviour with youth is really important, Johnson-Baker said, noting that rap music and forms of progressive hip-hop education can be used as tools to deconstruct sexually explicit messages adolescents receive.
Johnson-Baker added that 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 findings are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.