In this week’s roundup: double standards for sexual activity may begin as early as middle school, the University of Michigan tries out a new policy to discourage underage drinking, and a new study reveals that students are most likely to try certain drugs at specific times during the year.
A team of sociologists and researches has released a new study showing that adolescent girls and boys – as early as the 6th grade – experience the social impacts of sexual activity differently. “In our sample of early adolescents, girls’ friendship networks shrink significantly after they have sex, whereas boys’ friendship networks expand significantly,” said Derek A. Kreager, the lead researcher and a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University. The study found that early adolescent girls gain friends for making out without having sex, whereas boys of the same age lose friends for making out without having sex, enforcing a double standard about sexual freedom and promiscuity at a very early age. The researchers posit that early social norming around gender and sexual activity will have a lasting impact on “later sexual adjustment.” The paper, “The Double Standard at Sexual Debut: Gender, Sexual Behavior and Early Adolescent Peer Acceptance,” was presented Tuesday at the American Sociological Association’s 110th Annual Meeting.
The University of Michigan announced that they will be going an unconventional route to discourage underage drinking this year. When students repeatedly violate alcohol and other drug (AOTD) policies, their parents will be notified of their behavior. This is legal under FERPA Section 952, which allows – but not requires – schools to contact parents if their child is under 21 and committing AOTD violations. “We will notify parents of first-year students when a student under the age of 21 has had a second alcohol or drug violation or when a first-year student has committed a violation accompanied by other serious behavior such as needing medical attention, significant property damage or driving under the influence,” E. Royster Harper, Michigan’s Vice President for Student Life, wrote in a campus-wide email. This initiative is being promoted as a harm-reduction strategy for student safety. Official communication from the University has not addressed any potential concerns, discrepancies, or downfalls to this policy. However, commentors on the article have brought up that AOTD legal violations seem to be taken seriously for a school who is under Title IX investigation for its mishandling of a sexual assault committed by a star athlete.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released a new study on Thursday that looks at the months when college students are most likely to experiment with new drugs. The study is the first of its kind, breaking down first time use by month for various substances, including alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, “study drugs,” prescription painkillers, and cocaine. First time use of alcohol, for instance, peaks in June, July, September, and December, according to the report. Similarly, college students tend to use marijuana for the first time in June and July. First time non-medical use of prescription painkillers, on the other hand, peaks in December. The study is based on data collected between 2002 and 2013 from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The information can help administrators target monthly programming to address the substances students are most likely to experiment with. Read the full study.