Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Teens and Risky Sexual Behavior: Myth vs. Reality
New York Times: The Myth of Rampant Teenage Promiscuity, by Tara Parker-Pope:
Parents have worried for generations about changing moral values and risky behavior among young people, and the latest news seems particularly worrisome....
The news is troubling, but it’s also misleading. While some young people are clearly engaging in risky sexual behavior, a vast majority are not. The reality is that in many ways, today’s teenagers are more conservative about sex than previous generations.
Today, fewer than half of all high school students have had sex: 47.8 percent as of 2007, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, down from 54.1 percent in 1991....
The latest rise in teenage pregnancy rates is cause for concern. But it very likely reflects changing patterns in contraceptive use rather than a major change in sexual behavior. The reality is that the rate of teenage childbearing has fallen steeply since the late 1950s. The declines aren’t explained by the increasing availability of abortions: teenage abortion rates have also dropped.