Teen Sexual Activity Increases, Contraceptive Use Decreases

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Almost half (48%) of high school teens say they have had sex--an increase of 2% between 2005 and 2007, according to data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the same time period, the proportion of high school teens who say they used a condom the last time they had sex decreased 2%.

The new data is from the CDC's 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The survey is administered every two years to about 14,000 high school students nationwide and contains information on high school students' sexual behavior, drug and alcohol use, and other measures.

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Fully 7% of high school students report that they had sex before age 13, 15% say they have had four or more sexual partners, and 35% say they have had sex in the past three months. These three measures of sexual behavior all increased between 2005 and 2007.

At present, 8% of high school teens say they have been forced to have sex and 10% report having experienced dating violence. Both measures are essentially unchanged between 2005 and 2007.

"Raise the red alert flag," said Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "If teens are having more sex and using contraception less often, their rates of pregnancy and birth will obviously go up. And in fact, in December 2007, the federal government announced that the teen birth rate had increased for the first time in 15 years. This sobering news underscores what The National Campaign has long warned: what goes down can go back up. The 'more sex, less contraception' news released today makes clear that all of us must intensify our efforts to prevent too-early pregnancy and parenthood. Remember: a new group of kids turns 13 every year. Parents, community leaders, teachers, policymakers, and teens most of all must rededicate themselves to a simple idea: the teen years are for education and growing up, not starting families. Babies need adult parents and teen pregnancy is in no one's best interest."

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