A new study in the journal Pediatrics reveals that young people may not be the ravenous, sexual libertines they are often depicted as in the media.
“Policymakers and the media often sensationalize teen sexual behavior, suggesting that adolescents as young as 10 or 11 are increasingly sexually active,” said lead study researcher Dr. Lawrence Finer in a press release issued by the Guttmacher Institute.
“Rather, we are seeing teens waiting longer to have sex, using contraceptives more frequently when they start having sex, and being less likely to become pregnant than their peers of past decades.”
According to the report, children in early adolescence are extremely unlikely to be engaged in sexual activity, with just 2.4 percent of 12 years olds having sex — a rate that drops to less than 1 percent regarding the nation’s 10-year-olds. Furthermore, researchers said that young people that have engaged in sexual activity at such an earlier age were more than likely the victims of sexual abuse, with 62 percent of 10-year-old girls reporting that their first encounter entailed coerced sex.
Not surprisingly, older teens are much likelier to engage in sexual activity — with researchers estimating that 33 percent of 16-year-olds and about half of 17-year-olds have had sex — but the study also notes that the likelihood of teens or adolescents having sex, at any given age, is currently lower than at any point in the last quarter-century.
Researchers stat that contraceptive use is very common among teens, with about 80 percent of 16-year-olds using birth control methods the first time they have sex — a number that then leaps to 95 percent a year after the first sexual encounter.
Adolescents younger than 14, however, were found to be less likely to use birth control methods the first time they engaged in sexual activity, and generally took longer to begin using contraceptives than teens that waited longer to have sex for the first time.