Do girls feel more pressure to have sex? Would a kid lie about being molested by a teacher? John Stossel examines these questions and more in his book, "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know Is Wrong." Read about four different sex myths in this excerpt from his book, below.
MYTH: Girls feel the most pressure to have sex.
TRUTH: Boys say it isn't so.
It's an image we've all grown up with: The boys are aggressors and girls are reluctant prey. If it was ever that way, it isn't today.
Now it's boys, more than girls, who feel pushed into having sex. My colleague Deborah Roberts recently interviewed several high school students from New Jersey who confirmed a surprising survey from the Kaiser Foundation: 33 percent of teen boys feel pressure to have sex, compared to only 23 percent of girls.
HIGH SCHOOL BOY: Like, guys who were experienced with having sex, they'd be, like, going to younger kids, like, "Well, I have sex like, all of the time."
DEBORAH ROBERTS: So, does that make you feel the pressure to have sex, because you don't want to own up to not having done it?
HIGH SCHOOL BOY: [It] gets me nervous like, knowing that I'm at this age and I haven't -- done it yet. And, like, everyone else has so, like, maybe, like, I feel like I should be doing it.
2ND HIGH SCHOOL BOY: When you're with somebody, there's a lot of pressure from your friends. Like, all right now you're with her, how long is it going to take you? What are you waiting for?
Boys aren't necessarily the unabashed sexual predators we'd always assumed. Often, when they pressure girls, it's only because they feel pressure themselves.
MYTH: Talking to your kids about sex will make them want to have sex.
TRUTH: They're already thinking about it.
I understand why people hesitate to talk to teens about sex. It's logical to think that if we parents bring it up, our kids will think, "Oh, I guess it's time for us to do it."
Yet there's a lot the kids should know. Not talking about sex leaves room for so much ignorance. Years ago, there was so little sex talk that even adults were ignorant. That's actually why we now have products like Kellogg's Corn Flakes and graham crackers. People thought spicy foods would lead kids to have sex -- Dr. Justin Richardson, author of "Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid They'd Ask," explained that those bland foods were designed to avoid "inflaming the sexual appetite." Today we know more about sex, and parents are told, "Don't wait for the kids to ask, you bring it up." I spoke to Dr. Richardson.
STOSSEL: Couldn't bringing up the subject backfire? If you tell a twelveyear- old kid about sex, they're going to want to go have sex.
DR. JUSTIN RICHARDSON: That's the myth and it's a really common fear. But the research says the answer is no.
STOSSEL: And how can that be? I mean I would think the twelve-year-old, the fourteen-year-old says, "Gee, if everybody is talking about it, I should check this stuff out." He might have never thought about it before then.
DR. JUSTIN RICHARDSON: You may not be going there as a parent. But believe me, their friends are going there! And the media is going there. They're hearing about sex. What you want to do is lend your voice to the chorus. It's important to make sure that somebody is talking to your kid about sex other than their best buddy or a character on a television show.