Study Reveals Teen Sex Attitudes
Special Report - June 9, 2010
The majority of teenagersor about 6 out of 10have not had sexual intercourse, but an alarming percentage of teen boys and girls believe that unmarried childbearing is acceptable, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study, which was released on June 2, is based on 2006 to 2008 data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). It shows that about 42 percent of never-married teenage girls (between the ages of 15 and 19) and 43 percent of never married teenage boys are “sexually experienced” (or report having ever had sexual intercourse). Among these sexually experienced teens, 26 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys reported two or more lifetime sexual partners. According to the CDC, the findings on teen sexual activity represent no significant change since the last NSFG survey was conducted in 2002. Among the sexually abstinent teens in the survey (those who reported never having sexual intercourse), 41 percent of teen girls and 35 percent of teen boys said they had not done so because it was “against their religion or morals.”
The CDC study also found that among never-married sexually experienced teens, the overwhelming majority (79 percent of girls and 87 percent of boys) reported using a method of contraception during their first time sexual intercourse. Condoms are the most common form of contraception used by sexually experienced teens, followed by the “withdrawal” method, and the Pill. The only significant change in the type of contraception used by sexually active teens since 2002 is a six-point increase in the percentage of teenage girls who report using “periodic abstinence” (also known as the “rhythm method”). The study found that 17 percent of teenage girls in 2006-2008 reported ever-using “periodic abstinence” as a method of contraception, up from 11 percent in 2002.
While the survey found that the majority of teenagers are not sexually experienced, it also identified a disturbing increase in the percentage of teen boys and girls who believe that unmarried childbearing is acceptable. According to the study, 64 percent of teen boys and 71 percent of teen girls said they “agree” or “strongly agree” that “it’s okay for an unmarried female to have a child.”
“Popular culture and advocates of condom-based sex education continue to perpetuate the myth that the majority of today’s teens are sexually active, when in fact, as this latest CDC report shows, most 15 to 19 year-olds have not had sex,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Furthermore, abstinent teens cite morality and religion as the most common reason for not being sexually active. These findings further strengthen the importance of abstinence-until-marriage education, and should encourage policymakers and educators to stay the course, and promote abstinence from sexual activity until marriage as the best choice teens can make.”
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