Thursday, February 15, 2007

95% of Americans Do It, But It's Psychologically Harmful?

Among the federal standards for abstinence-only sexuality education, addressed on this blog yesterday, is one that requires such programs to "teach[] that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects." See Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act, P.L. 104-193.

However, in what study author Lawrence Finer calls "reality-check research," the Guttmacher Institute recently found that Premarital Sex Is Nearly Universal Among Americans and Has Been So for Decades.  From the Guttmacher Institute's press release:

The vast majority of Americans have sex before marriage, including those who abstained from sex during their teenage years, according to “Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954–2003,” by Lawrence B. Finer, published in the January/February 2007 issue of Public Health Reports. Further, contrary to the public perception that premarital sex is much more common now than in the past, the study shows that even among women who were born in the 1940s, nearly nine in 10 had sex before marriage.

The new study uses data from several rounds of the federal National Survey of Family Growth to examine sexual behavior before marriage, and how it has changed over time. According to the analysis, by age 44, 99% of respondents had had sex, and 95% had done so before marriage. Even among those who abstained from sex until age 20 or older, 81% had had premarital sex by age 44.

Miscellaneous, Sexuality Education | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 95% of Americans Do It, But It's Psychologically Harmful?:


It doesn't seem so implausible to me to think that there are human behaviors that are both (a) universal or near-universal and (b) psychologically unhealthy. Occasionally thinking malicious, unkind thoughts about other people is psychologically harmful. But everyone does that too.

Posted by: Chris | Feb 15, 2007 2:45:47 PM

Post a comment