Saturday, August 31, 2002

Who Let 'em Out of School?
From the groves of academe comes Adult 'Bad' Behavior May Encourage Teen Sex - Study. Uh oh! Hanky panky leads to hanky panky? Not quite:
Parents who smoke and drink and otherwise fail to take care of their health are influencing their children to do likewise--but they may also be somehow giving them the nod to have sex, researchers said on Friday.

Teen-agers whose parents smoked were about 50 percent more likely to have had sex by the time they were 15, the researchers reported.

"Adolescents whose parents engage in risky behavior, especially smoking, are especially likely to be sexually active," Esther Wilder of Lehman College in New York and Toni Terling Watt of Southwest Texas State University wrote in their report.
Repeat after me, students: Correlation is not Causation.

Oh wait, they may have a clue:
"This is not to say that parents who smoke are causing their children to become sexually active," Wilder said in a telephone interview.

"You'd want to go in and see what is going on in these households. It may have to do with things such as parents who are smoking are not eating as healthy and it might be they might not be doing other things. Who knows what all the mechanisms are? I suspect they are very complex."
In other words, they have no idea what is really going on. Thanks for the insight, pal. One wonders whether they corrected for socioeconomic status which is probably both highly correlated and arguably causative, but it's too much trouble to bother with the pseudoscientists. More blather by following the link, but don't forget, buckle up for paternity safety:
Wilder and Watt found that boys were more likely to have sex if their parents failed to use seatbelts--but not girls.