Teen sex fears overblown
Recent research from the Guttmacher Institute, which studies sexual and reproductive health, has come to a conclusion that should help allay the fears of many parents of teenagers. It says that teens are less sexually active than conventional wisdom says they are. Young teens in particular are very unlikely to be sexually active, and even older teenagers are more apt to take it slow than the media (or concerned parents) may think.
The study, published in Pediatrics, found that only 2.4 percent of 12-year-olds had ever had sex, and that even at 16, only one-third of teens were sexually active. By age 18 and 19, that number had grown to 71 percent, and the researchers suspect that teens today are more inclined to wait a little longer before becoming sexually active. Plus, when teens were having sex, it usually was with protection: contraceptives are used at higher levels than in previous decades. The study found that 80 percent of 16-year-olds having sex for the first time used contraceptives, and by age 17, 95 percent of teens had taken up contraceptive use.
Teen pregnancy rates are currently at a 40-year low, and these rates have declined 42 percent since 1990. As of 2008, only 68 of every 1,000 teens experienced a pregnancy.
Parents, it's okay to exhale.