Significant Drop in Risky Sex Among Teens?

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According to a CDC study released today the number of US teenagers who have had sex and/or are sexually experienced is on the decline, and condom use is on the rise. The report finds that the proportion of high school students who are sexually experienced decreased by 13% from 1991 to 2005. The Washington Times is quick to point out that the percentage of students who said they had ever had sexual intercourse decreased 9%, from 54.1% in 1991 to 46.8% in 2005. Yet the paper fails to mention that since 2001, when the Bush Administration started funding and promoting abstinence only education in schools, the numbers are a wash — 46.8% said they had ever had sex last year vs. 45.8% four years earlier, a neglible difference at best given the 3.3% margin of error.

In fact, the proportion of teens who had sex with four or more partners and those who had had sex within the preceding 3 months actually increased slightly from 2001 to 2005. Condom use was the only category with a statistically significant improvement with an increase in those four years, by 5% to nearly 63% of teens. Meaning those who are having sex–and the numbers seem to be remaining quite steady these days, are getting smarter about it.

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