You probably don't want to consider that your teen is engaging in sexual behavior -- and, well, he or she might not be. However, if that's your hope, you should know that the statistics aren't exactly promising. Even while the number of teens choosing to abstain from sex is growing, around 42 percent of girls and 47 percent of boys ages 15 to 17 are sexually active [source: Jayson ].
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Unprotected Oral Sex
High heels make the year-old Moline girl, wearing a slinky flowered dress, seem taller. Her black hair styled in a bob, she gestures to a young man approaching a Davenport concert venue and says, "He's the first one I had oral sex with. Her casual tone is typical among more than a dozen teens who alternately describe the oral sex act as "pleasurable," "disgusting" and "better than kissing. Local teens say popular culture, including television shows such as "Sex in the City" or MTV's coverage of college students on spring break, may influence their peers. Others point to alcohol abuse at parties, peer pressure and knowledge that they can't get pregnant. Many young people use such examples as justification for their behavior, says a local health educator.
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Recent research on an alarming new trend in the teenage and early adolescent population shows that while more kids might be choosing abstinence when it comes to having sex, they are defining sex as nothing less than the act of sexual intercourse. In fact, a growing body of anecdotal and research evidence points to the fact that more and more kids are participating in oral sex experiences, while fewer and fewer equate the act with having sex. An article in the New York Times reported that high school students who had come of age with AIDS education considered oral sex to be a far less dangerous alternative, in both physical and emotional terms, than vaginal intercourse. Remez discovered that press reports in the Washington Post described an unsettling fad among suburban middle-school students who were regularly engaging in oral sexual activity in their homes, in parks, and on school grounds. The article reported that counselors and sexual behavior researchers believed that about half of all kids had been involved in such behavior by the time they reached high school. Then, in April of , another New York Times story quoted a Manhattan psychologist as saying oral sex among seventh and eighth-grade virgins is like a goodnight kiss to them. Most research on teen sexual activity over the years has focused solely on vaginal intercourse. In August of the Kaiser Family Foundation www.
The government study shows fewer teenage girls are having oral sex, compared to a few years ago. The study, based on in-depth interviews with 6, young men and women aged 15 to 24, shows two-thirds in that age group have had oral sex, and just about the same proportion have had vaginal intercourse. But just about 42 percent of 15 to year-old girls have given or received oral sex, down from 45 percent when the last survey was done in This is good news, the researchers say, because the earlier young people start any sexual activity at all, the more likely they are to get a sexually transmitted disease or to get pregnant. The bad news is that teenagers and young adults are still highly likely to get sexually transmitted infections or STIs. The report shows that only 7 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 had had oral sex without ever having had vaginal intercourse. By age 22 to 24, just 2. But the CDC analysis shows that sexually active young people are likely to engage in both activities. Planned Parenthood advocates for comprehensive sex education, and the Obama administration does too.