Good News on Teen Sex

Los Angeles Times -

A new survey indicates that a majority of teens now choose not to have sex - a marked change from the 1980's

That researcher have found a decline in the number of adolescents engaging in sex is by itself very heartening news. That this decline occurred against the relentless bump and grind of our sex-drenched popular culture is even more impressive.

A report released by the federal Centers for Disease Control finds that from 1991 to 1997 the share of the nation's teen-agers who engageed in sexual activity declined a striking 11 percent. Last year, 48.4 percent of students in grades nine through 12 were sexually active, the CDC said, compared with 54.1 percent in 1991.

This dip is the first departure from the ballooning rates of sexual intercourse among adolescents that started in the 1970's. "For the first time in a decade," said one agency official, "less than half of the nation's school students have engaged in sexual intercourse." Because kids typically want to "fit in." this finding is especially important; now those who abstain can say they represent the majority.

Decades of research, under scored by the hard-luck stories of teen-agers who became sexually active, indicates that this fragile new majority can look forward to a brighter future. Girls who don't get pregnant have far better odds of graduating from high school and going on to college. And youngsters who refrain from sex also avoid sexually transmitted AIDS and many other sexually communicated diseases...

The study was based on the responses of more than 50,000 students who completed written, anonymous questionnaires during the 1990s asking about a range of sexual activity. The one caution light regarding the study is the possibility that not all teeagers, particularly boys, responded truthfully to the questions. But even so, the trend remains positive.