Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 4.2 Sexually active teens

04/01/1997

Having become sexually experienced does not necessarily mean a teenager will be sexually active from that point on. They may still abstain from intercourse out of concern for the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, a preference for abstinence, or they may experience periods in which they do not have a sexual partner. Nevertheless, research indicates that once a person has had sex, they are likely to continue to be sexually active; among young adults aged 18-22 who had ever had intercourse, over 70 percent had a second experience of intercourse within six months of first intercourse.41

The percentage of teens in grades 9-12 who are sexually active defined as having had sexual intercourse in the previous three months has remained steady at 38 percent from 1991 to 1995 (see Table SD 4.2).

Differences by Gender. There is little difference between the percentages of male and female students who are sexually active. In 1995, 40 percent of males and 36 percent of females reported being sexually active.

Differences by Race.42 In 1995, black students were, at 54 percent, more likely than either non-Hispanic white (35 percent) or Hispanic (39 percent) students to be sexually active (see Figure SD 4.2).

Differences by Grade. The percentage of sexually active teens rises as grade increases. Twelfth grade students are nearly twice as likely to be sexually active than are 9th grade students.
 

Figure SD 4.2  
Sexually Active Teens: Percentage of Teens in Grades 9-12 Who Reported Having Had Sexual Intercourse in the Previous Three Months, by Race/Ethnicity: 1995 

SD4_2.GIF

Sources: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States, 1995. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 45, No SS-4, 1996: and unpublished tabulations from L. Kann, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
 
 

Table SD 4.2 
Sexually Active Teens: Percentage of Teens in Grades 9-12 Who Reported Having Had Sexual Intercourse in the Previous Three Months, by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Grade, and Age: 1991, 1993, and 1995

             
       
1991
1993
1995
       
 
 
 
Total
38
38
38
             
  Sex
    Male 
38
38
40
    Female 
37
38
36
             
  Race
    White, Non-Hispanic
34
34
35
    Black, Non-Hispanic
59
59
54
    Hispanic
37
39
39
             
  Grade
    9th 
22
25
24
    10th
33
30
34
    11th
43
40
42
    12th
51
53
50
             
  Age
    15 years 
24
25
28
    16 years 
38
35
37
    15 or 16 years 
31
31
32
             
             
Sources: "1990-1991 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System." Chronic Disease and Health Promotion Reprints from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States, 1993." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 44, No. SS-1, 1995. "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States, 1995." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol. 45, No SS-4, 1996: and unpublished tabulations from L. Kann, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

41 Moore, K.A. and Peterson, J.L. August 1989. "The Consequences of Teenage Pregnancy." Final report to NICHD and ASPE/HHS, Grant number HD 21537.

42 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 
 

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