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The News Story – Rise in sexually transmitted diseases could be linked to hook-up apps

Many have decried the so-called “hook-up culture” in which we live, arguing that it damages both men and women physically, emotionally, and mentally. A new story out of Atlanta sheds light on how some of this damage may be spreading.
FOX News Atlanta reports that hook-up apps may be contributing to Georgia’s rise in STD rates in recent years, by “providing easy access to meet strangers and sometimes engage in risky behavior.” Says Dr. Yolanda Wimberly, associate professor of Adolescent Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine, “You’re not in a relationship with someone; it doesn’t give you an opportunity to really know that person, to know their sexual history . . .” Nonetheless, Wimberly believes that “the alleged connection” between apps, social media, hook-ups, and STDs still needs more investigation. She instead “suggests social media can be used to educate young people about sexual health.”
But research suggests that other, less politically popular mechanisms are already having the effect that social reformers hope more “education” will accomplish.

The New Research – Avoiding the hook-up sinkhole

Because of accumulating evidence that perhaps, just perhaps, some people—especially women—are being hurt in the sexual free-for-all that progressive theorizing has let loose, researchers at Brown and Syracuse Universities recently looked closely at the hook-up culture to identify those characteristics that bring female students into the hook-up vortex and those characteristics that keep them out. As it turns out, a personal outlook (religious faith) and a family circumstance (an intact parental marriage) both shield against this nightmare of boundless and frenetic carnality.
Even progressive academics might be troubled by evidence of “an association between hook-up behavior and depressive symptoms, low self-esteem, and sexual regret” among women and concerned by reports that “women may be more vulnerable than men to emotional distress after hook-ups due to their greater desire for hook-ups to become romantic relationships, pressure from male hook-up partners to go further sexually than they want, and a muted but persistent sexual ‘double standard.’”
With such issues in view, the authors of this new study probe data collected from 483 female freshman students. Not surprisingly, the predictors of hook-up behavior that stand out in the data include “impulsivity, sensation-seeking, pre-college hook-ups, alcohol use, marijuana use, [and] social comparison orientation.” Also unsurprising are the “protective factors” (and no adjective was ever more apt!) keeping young women out of the hook-up cesspool: “religiosity, self-esteem, religious service attendance, and having married parents.”
To be sure, some of these protective factors provide broader and stronger protection than others. Self-esteem, for instance, protects only by depressing the number—not occurrence—of certain types of hook-ups. Interestingly, religious-service attendance likewise affords only very limited protection against certain kinds of hook-ups.
To explain why attending religious services affords the students in their study such limited protection against the hook-up black hole, the researchers plausibly conjecture that freshman students may “not yet have established a new place of worship . . . and academic and social demands may also keep students from attending religious services.” In contrast, the data indicate that “subjective religiosity” gives young women a more “consistent protective effect” against the hook-up world. Apparently, religious convictions in the heart do more to keep young women out of hook-ups than does involvement with a church or synagogue.
The data do show that hook-ups are significantly less likely among women with married parents than among peers without married parents, prompting the researchers to remark that “having married parents may provide a model of more conventional relationships and sexual behavior,” a model that contrasts sharply with hooking up.
As an ever-greater number of young women are sucked into a hook-up riptide that leaves them emotionally and morally maimed, Americans might look to some tried-and-true remedies: religious faith and married parents.
(Source: Bryce J. Christensen and Nicole M. King, “New Research,” The Family in America, Spring 2015, Vol. 29 Number 2. Study: Robyn L. Fielder et al., “Predictors of Sexual Hook-ups: A Theory-Based, Prospective Study of First-Year College Women,”Archives of Sexual Behavior 42.8 [2013]: 10.117/s10508-013-0106-0, Web.)

This article has been republished with permission from The Family in America, a publication of The Howard Center. The Howard Center is a MercatorNet partner site.

Nicole M. King is the Managing Editor of The Howard Center’s quarterly journal, The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy, the United States’ leading journal of family-policy research....