Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype Over Teen Sex

Kids Gone Wild: From Rainbow Parties to Sexting, Understanding the Hype Over Teen Sex

by Joel Best, Kathleen A. Bogle
     
 

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Winner of the 2015 Brian McConnell Book Award presented by the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research

To hear mainstream media sources tell it, the sex lives of modern teenagers outpace even the smuttiest of cable television shows. Teen girls “sext” explicit photos to boys they like; they wear “sex

Overview

Winner of the 2015 Brian McConnell Book Award presented by the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research

To hear mainstream media sources tell it, the sex lives of modern teenagers outpace even the smuttiest of cable television shows. Teen girls “sext” explicit photos to boys they like; they wear “sex bracelets” that signify what sexual activities they have done, or will do; they team up with other girls at “rainbow parties” to perform sex acts on groups of willing teen boys; they form “pregnancy pacts” with their best girlfriends to all become teen mothers at the same time. From The Today Show, to CNN, to the New York Times, stories of these events have been featured widely in the media. But are most teenage—or younger—children really going to sex parties and having multiple sexual encounters in an orgy-like fashion?   Researchers say no—teen sex is actually not rampant and teen pregnancy is at low levels. But why do stories like these find such media traffic, exploiting parents’ worst fears? How do these rumors get started, and how do they travel around the country and even across the globe?   In Kids Gone Wild, best-selling authors Joel Best and Kathleen A. Bogle use these stories about the fears of the growing sexualization of childhood to explore what we know about contemporary legends and how both traditional media and the internet perpetuate these rumors while, at times, debating their authenticity. Best and Bogle describe the process by which such stories spread, trace how and to where they have moved, and track how they can morph as they travel from one medium to another. Ultimately, they find that our society’s view of kids raging out of control has drastic and unforeseen consequences, fueling the debate on sex education and affecting policy decisions on everything from the availability of the morning after pill to who is included on sex offender registries.   A surprising look at the truth behind the sensationalism in our culture, Kids Gone Wild is a much-needed wake-up call for a society determined to believe the worst about its young people.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/14/2014
Sociologists Best and Bogle explore how cultural fears become manifest in the rumors of “rainbow parties,” in which young women supposedly line up to offer oral sex, leaving rings of colored lipstick on male genitals, and sex bracelets, in which a fashion accessory hides a secret sexual code. They address sexting—teens sending explicit pictures and messages—as the real social problem today, which becomes exaggerated as the media focuses on extreme cases, and schools jump to respond. Although research shows that white, middle-class teens are not actually out of control, that’s not the point here. Instead, Best (Damned Lies and Statistics) and Bogle (Hooking Up) illustrate how infotainment reporting, online hubbub, and misleading statistics combine with our psychological tendency to create stories that stick, even when there’s no supporting evidence. In addition, they reveal how stories about teen sex support political agendas—with liberals worrying about the victimization of young women and conservatives worrying about morals—and how these worries influence policymaking. Even more importantly, the authors examine how cultural memes spread; their call to take a more critical look at the sensational stories we share, and how they do or don’t serve us, is worth hearing. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
". . . These varied measures of teen sexual behavior separate myth from truth."-USA Today

“Bogle and Best analyzed the trajectory of isolated rumors about teenage debauchery to major network coverage on the evening news and found that few reporters took the time or effort to investigate the facts. Each time the public hears ‘Coming up at six: shocking news about the bracelet your kid is wearing,’ in the same breath as substantive reports about the Middle East and the economy, [Bogle] said, they are very difficult to shake.”-The Inquirer

"Although research shows that white, middle-class teens are not actually out of control, that’s not the point here. Instead, Best and Bogle illustrate how infotainment reporting, online hubbub, and misleading statistics combine with our psychological tendency to create stories that stick, even when there’s no supporting evidence. . . . Even more importantly, the authors examine how cultural memes spread; their call to take a more critical look at the sensational stories we share, and how they do or don’t serve us, is worth hearing."-Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814762981
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
08/29/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
200
Sales rank:
1,006,138
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Joel Best is Professor of Sociology & Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. He has published more than twenty books on social problems and deviance, including Threatened Children, Random Violence, Damned Lies and Statistics, and The Student Loan Mess (with Eric Best.)

Kathleen A. Bogle is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at La Salle University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus.

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