More Teens Delaying Sex
Special Report - November 23, 2011
The majority of American teenagers have never had sexual intercourse, and religious or moral values are the top reasons cited by teens for not having sex, according to the latest report on teen sexual activity from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report, “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing,” which was released last month, is based on the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), which is conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The most encouraging finding from the CDC report is that the percentage of teenage girls and boys who have ever had sexual intercourse has continued a “significant long-term decline” that was first documented in the 1988 NSFG. According to the latest report, nearly 60 percent of never-married American teenagers (ages 15 to 19) say they have never had sexual intercourse. The report shows that nearly 43 percent of teenage girls and nearly 42 percent of teenage boys report being sexually experienced (i.e., ever having had sexual intercourse), down from 45.5 percent of girls and 45.7 percent of boys in 2002, the last time the survey was conducted. Although the report cautions that the decline in sexual activity between 2002 and 2006-2010 was not “statistically significant” (declining only three percent among teenage girls and four percent among teenage boys), it also points out that the overall decline since 1988 has remained “steady.” For example, since 1988, the CDC reports that the percentage of sexually active teenage girls declined from 51 percent to 42.6 percent in the latest survey (for males, it declined from 60.4 percent in 1988 to 41.8 percent in 2006-2010). “From a long-term perspective, this significant long-term decline is a reversal from a period during which the percentage of teenagers who were sexually experienced was steadily increasing,” the report explains. “According to the National Survey of Young Women, only 30 percent of teenaged females were sexually experienced in 1971 and this percentage rose each survey year through 1988 before it began declining.”
Religious or moral beliefs remain the top reason cited by teenagers for choosing abstinence. The NSFG survey asked teenagers who had never had sex to choose the reason they had abstained from sexual activity from among several different options. As in 2002, the most commonly cited reason by both teenage girls and boys was it is “against [my] religion or morals” (31 percent). The second most common reason among males was “haven’t found the right person yet.” Among females, the second and third most common reasons, respectively, were: “don’t want to get pregnant,” and “haven’t found the right person.”
Another positive finding from the report is that after a slight increase between 2005 and 2007 of about five percent, the teen birth rate continues to decline. In 2009, the teen birth rate was 39.1, down from 41.5 in 2007. According to the CDC, the teen birth rate was 37 percent lower in 2009 that its peak in 1991. As we previously reported, a February 2011 data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that the birth rate for teens ages 15 to 17 declined in 31 states between 2007 and 2009, “increasing significantly” in only one state, West Virginia. In North Carolina, the birth rate among 15 to 17 year-old girls declined 11.5 percent during this time period. Among older teens, ages 18 to 19, the birth rate dropped 13.6 percent between 2007 and 2009 in North Carolina, which was one of 45 states to experience a decline in the birth rate among older teens.
“The latest findings from the CDC regarding teen sexual activity show that despite what condom-based sex education proponents want us to believe about the inability of teenagers to abstain from sexual activity, most teens are not having sex,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Furthermore, the report documents the important connection between the decision to postpone sexual activity, and religious or moral values. This report is further proof that the sex education message young people need most is the one provided by abstinence-until-marriage education, which is that delaying sex until marriage is the best way to protect their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, and that young people have the ability to make that choice.”
Teen Sex Leads to Divorce - June 23, 2011
Concerning Young Adult Sexual Trends - January 14, 2011
Abstinence Programs Prove Effective - March 3, 2010
Ten Reasons to Keep Abstinence Education in NC - FNC -July 2009
Positive Trends in Teen Sexuality - May 20, 2009
Virginity Pledges Help Delay Sex - June 13, 2008
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