High School Students Having Less Sex

Government research shows decline in teens' involvement in risky behaviors.

Government research shows decline in teens’ involvement in risky behaviors.

Researchers have noted a sharp decline in teen participation in several risky behaviors. Among those behaviors are sexual activity, using alcohol and other drugs, and smoking. A spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy remarked, “I think you can call this the cautious generation.”

In a national survey of high school students, 41 per cent of the respondents reported having had sex; this compares with 47 per cent over the precious decade. Approximately 30 per cent of the teens reported having sex within the previous three months, down from 34-35 per cent reported in each of the previous six surveys. About 11 per cent reported having four or more sex partners, a decline from 14-15 per cent over the previous decade. About 4 per cent reported having sex before the age of 13, a decrease from 6-7 per cent.

Among the other findings of the survey are: Just under 33 per cent of the students had at least one alcoholic drink in the previous month, down from 35 per cent in the last survey. About 11 per cent of those responding smoked a cigarette in the previous month, the lowest level ever, and down from 27 per cent. Just under 22 per cent of the teens reported using marijuana in the previous month, a slight decrease from the previous two surveys. Approximately 24 per cent had used e-cigarettes or vaping products; this was the first time students had been queried about this behavior. Use of illegal drugs also declined: 2 percent for heroin, 5 percent for cocaine, 5 percent for ecstasy, and 6 per cent for hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducts a national survey on youth behavior every two years. Participants in the current survey included 16,000 students at 125 schools. The schools were both public and private. Participation in the study was voluntary, but required parental permission, and responses were anonymous.

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