My final article about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Survey on Family Growth focuses on teens’ behavior and attitudes about sexual activity.
First – despite the fact that we are now very used to seeing and hearing sexually charged images or references in the mainstream media, teens’ attitudes about sex have changed relatively little in the past decade. While some people may complain that the prevalence of sexual material in our entertainment industry is dangerous for inquiring, young minds, there is no proof this is the case. In fact, the most notable changes in teens’ attitudes toward sexual activity have nothing to do with topics people normally associate with a sexually over-charged media-- age at which first sex is appropriate, acceptable number of partners, use of contraception, etc.
The main attitude shift shown in the survey was related to the reasons teens gave for practicing abstinence. In 2002, both males and females aged 15-19 ranked their top reasons for not having sex as:
1. It went against their morals
2. They didn’t want to get (a female) pregnant
3. They hadn’t found the right person yet
While females’ ranking did not change in the 2006-2008 survey, their male counterparts no longer felt as strongly that pregnancy prevention was a reason to abstain. In the most recent survey, only 12 percent of males said they were not having sex because they didn’t want to get a female pregnant, while 36 percent reported that they were waiting until they found the right person. Perhaps this indicates a heightened interest among young men in finding “love” or being part of a committed relationship, and perhaps this indicates a belief among young men that pregnancy and/or childbirth is something only the female should deal with. Or something else completely! What do you think?
These changes in attitudes towards sex are interesting, but I believe the most surprising and terrifying statistic in this section of study pertains to teens’ attitudes towards their first-sex experience.