SEX AND THE AMERICAN TEENAGER by Robert & Geoffrey Stokes Coles
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An absolute eye-opener--the results of what is probably the most wide-ranging, reliable survey that exists on teenagers and sex. Coles (a pediatrician/child psychiatrist) and Stokes make no judgements or recommendations on morality or child-raising--they simply seek to answer the questions ""What do kids do? How do they feel about it?"" The survey itself was sponsored by Rolling Stone magazine and conducted by an independent national survey organization; over 1,000 questionnaires and follow-up interviews are reported on here. And the material is full of surprises: Coles himself wonders if ""there is actually all that much rock-bottom change in the sexuality of this generation. Those who are sexually experienced still hunger for those old staples of the human scene--the loyalty and commitment of another human being."" And many specific values still hold: ""Promiscuity is regard with disfavor, even morally condemned. A majority of the young women respondents choose virginity, monogomy, and 'love.'"" Feminism has brought some changes in women's expectations, ""But men have perhaps changed, too--are in significant numbers more willing to respect the hopes and expectations of their women friends. . .there is a more than occasional earnestness to the male interviewees--a desire to share the pleasures of intimacy with their girlfriends, rather than 'hit and run' in the supposed manner of the old 'double-standard' tradition.""A major note of agreement among teens on having intercourse, which cuts across geographical, ethnic and all other lines, is on love: ""No matter where teens live, no matter what their race, family incomes, educational plans, grades, or religion, about 41 per cent of them believe that love makes it permissible for a girl to have sexual intercourse."" Among the most disturbing trends reported here is one that has perhaps less to do with teens than with their parents: the increase in difficulties with all aspects of sexuality and intimacy that teens of separating or divorced parents experience. Coles discusses the general picture of teen-age sexuality in this society; Stokes then reports the survey findings; and selected interview excerpts are included. The authors successfully present a mass of important material in a coherent, meaningful framework. An important work.

Pub Date: June 5th, 1985
Publisher: Harper & Row