Teens — what with their Facebookery and constant sexting — seem like they grow up pretty fast these days, but, as it turns out, they might not be growing up as fast as some people fear. Unclutch your pearls and quit it with your wails of won't someone please think of the children: Modern teenagers aren't having any more sex than your peers did when you were a kid.
A recent study by Lawrence B. Finer and Jesse M. Philbin of the Guttmacher Institute in New York City surveyed kids ages 10-19 about their sexual conduct. Published in the online journal Pediatrics, the institute reported that only 0.6% of 10-year-olds, 1.1% of 11-year-olds and 2.4% of 12-year-olds admitted to having had penetrative sex. The younger the adolescent was, the more likely the sex was found to be involuntary and sexual abuse.
Unsurprisingly, teens became increasingly sexually active as they got older with 33% of 16-year-olds, about 50% of 17-year-olds, 61% of 18-year-olds and 71% of 19-year-olds saying that they engaged in penis-in-vagina intercourse (the study did not look at teens who were engaging in less procreative sex acts). For as sex-obsessed as we paint young people to be, these statistics are the same statistics that have prevailed for decades. If anything, the study found that the current batch of floppy-haired, One Direction loving youths are actually waiting longer to have sex than previous generations.
The study's lead author Lawrence Finer a statement saying:
"Policymakers and the media often sensationalize teen sexual behavior, suggesting that adolescents as young as 10 or 11 are increasingly sexually active, but the data just don't support that concern. Rather, we are seeing teens waiting longer to have sex, using contraceptives more frequently, and being less likely to become pregnant than peers of past decades."
Prude it up, youngins! Tomorrow belongs to you.
In other bolstering news, teens are demonstrating an increasingly stronger understanding of the importance of contraception. Over 80% of sexually active 16-year-olds used protection during first time vaginal intercourse and 95% begin regularly using contraceptives within the year. Like the poster in my high school nurse's office always reminded us, "No Glove, No Love."