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National News

One in Five Teenagers Has Sex Before 15, Study Finds

May 20, 2003

About 20 percent of adolescents have had sexual intercourse before their 15th birthday -- and one in seven of the sexually experienced 14-year-old girls has been pregnant, according to a report released yesterday by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The report, an analysis of seven studies conducted in the late 1990's, offers a comprehensive look at the sexual activities of 12- to 14-year-olds, a group often overlooked in discussions of adolescent sexuality.

"This is a wake-up call that the efforts that we make toward young people have to start early, that teachers looking at a class of 13-year-olds can't assume they're in a state of latent innocence," said Sarah Brown, director of the campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington-based group. Brown and others said there was reason to believe that in years since the data was collected, fewer youths had been having sex. For those 14 and younger, according to federal data, the birthrate declined 43 percent from 1991 to 2001.

The report also found:

  • About a third of parents of sexually experienced 14-year-olds knew that their children were having sex -- and while most said they had spoken to their children about sex, far fewer teenagers reported having such conversations.

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  • From half to three-quarters of the experienced 12- to 14-year olds said they had used contraception the first time they had sex.

  • About a quarter of the youths had dated or had a romantic relationship with someone at least two years older -- and the greater the age difference, the more likely the relationship was to have included sexual intercourse.

"When parents ask me what they can do, I tell them two things," Brown said. "First, discourage early one-on-one dating, and, second, be very, very leery of significant age differences."

Data in the report come from the National Survey of Family Growth, the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth -- and four smaller data sets.

Back to other CDC news for May 20, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
New York Times
05.20.03; Tamar Lewin


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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More Statistics on Young People and HIV/AIDS in the U.S.

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