Sexually Experienced Teens

Sexually Experienced Teens

Nearly half of high school students report they have ever had sexual intercourse. This proportion declined between 1991 and 2001, from 54 to 46 percent; since that time it has fluctuated slightly, and was at 47 percent in 2011.

Importance

Engaging in sexual intercourse puts male and female teens at risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).[1] A younger age at first sexual intercourse is also associated with a greater likelihood of having nonconsensual or unwanted sex,[2] having multiple sexual partners,[3],[4] and decreased contraceptive use.[5] Additionally, youth who engage in early sexual intercourse are more likely to engage in later delinquent behaviors,[6] are at greater risk of experiencing depression,[7] and are less likely to reach post-secondary levels of education.[8]

Many factors are associated with age of sexual initiation. Teens who grow up in stable families with more resources are less likely to have sex at a young age.[9],[10] Teens who have good relationships with their parents--e g., are close to their parents, communicate about sex, and whose parents set rules and monitor their child's whereabouts--are less likely to have sex at an early age.[11],[12] Conversely, youth who are disengaged from school, involved in delinquent activities, or who have higher levels of externalizing behaviors are at increased risk for early sex.[13],[14]

However, not all teens who have ever had sex are currently sexually active (i.e., have had sex in the past three months). For example, according to data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 29 percent of teens report that they have had sex in the past three months, but only 24 percent have had sex in the past month. About one-quarter of teens (ages 15-19, 23 percent) have had only one sex partner in the past twelve months; however, older teens (18- to 19-year-olds) are more likely to have had sex with more than one person (34 percent).[15]

Trends

The proportion of high school students who reported they had ever had sexual intercourse declined between 1991 and 2001, from 54 to 46 percent. Between 2001 and 2011 this figure fluctuated only slightly, and was at 47 percent in 2011. (Figure 1)

Differences by Gender

In 2011, approximately equal shares of male and female high school students overall (49 and 47 percent, respectively) reported ever having sexual intercourse. However, both black and Hispanic males were significantly more likely to report ever having sexual intercourse than their female peers (67 versus 54 percent and 53 versus 44 percent, respectively). (Appendix 1)

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin[16]

Black high school students overall are the most likely to have reported ever having had sexual intercourse (60 percent in 2011). In comparison, 49 percent of Hispanics and 44 percent of whites reported having ever had sexual intercourse. The difference between these two groups is not statistically significant. The disparity between black students and those in the other two groups has generally declined over time. (Figure 1) The difference is greater among males, where 67 percent of black students, 53 percent of Hispanic students, and 44 percent of white students reported they had ever had sexual intercourse. (Appendix 1)

Differences by Grade

The percentage of students who are sexually experienced increases with every grade. In 2011, 33 percent of ninth-graders reportedly had ever had sexual intercourse, compared with 44 percent of tenth-graders, 53 percent of eleventh graders, and 63 percent of twelfth-graders. Each grade-to-grade increase was statistically significant. (Figure 2)

State and Local Estimates

2011 estimates of sexual experience among high school students (Grades 9-12) are available for select states and cities from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6104.pdf

International Estimates

Estimates of sexual experience among 15-year-olds in 36 European countries can be found in a summary of the results of the 2009/2010 Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, Health and Policy for Children and Adolescents, no. 6,at http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-publish/abstracts/social-determinants-of-health-and-well-being-among-young-people.-health-behaviour-in-school-aged-children-hbsc-study (page 174)

National Goals

Through its Healthy People 2020 initiative, the federal government has set national goals to decrease the proportion of adolescents under age 17 who are sexually experienced, with sub-goals for males and females, ages under 15 years and over 15 years. Additionally, there are goals to increase the proportion of sexually active adolescents who used a condom at first intercourse.

More information is available at: http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/objectiveslist.aspx?topicId=13

(goals FP 9 and 10)

What Works to Make Progress on This Indicator

See Ball, V., and Moore, K. A. (2008). What works for adolescent reproductive health:

Lessons from experimental evaluations of programs and interventions. A Child Trends Fact Sheet. Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Child_Trends-2008_05_20_FS_WhatWorksRepro.pdf

A variety of programs and policies--including comprehensive family life education, access to contraceptive care, early childhood programs, and youth development programs--have been linked to both delays in age at first sex, as well as engagement in healthier sexual behaviors among those who have had sex.[17] Some examples include: Positive Prevention[18] (http://www.positiveprevention.com/index.html) and Teen Star[19] (http://www.teenstar.org/), which have been found to delay the onset of sexual activity and to reduce the frequency of sexual activity among sexually active high school students and adolescents.Additionally, Reach for Health - Service Learning Program[20] has been shown to be effective at reducing the proportion of minority, urban middle-schoolers who have initiated sex by 10th grade.

Also, see the U.S. Office of Adolescent Health's list of interventions meeting its criteria for effectiveness in pregnancy prevention:http://www.hhs.gov/ophs/oah/prevention/research/programs/index.html

Related Indicators

·Sexually Active Teens: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=sexually-active-teens

·Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=sexually-transmitted-infections-stis

·Teen Pregnancy: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=teen-pregnancy

·Birth Control Pill Use: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=birth-control-pill-use

·Condom Use: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=condom-use

Oral Sex Behaviors among Teens: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=oral-sex-behaviors-among-teens

·Adolescents Who Have Ever Been Raped: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=adolescents-who-have-ever-been-raped

·Statutory Rape: Sex Between Young Teens and Older Individuals: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=statutory-rape-sex-between-young-teens-and-older-individuals

Definition

Sexually experienced is defined as ever having had vaginal sexual intercourse in one's lifetime.

Data Sources

·Data for 2011: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 8, 2012). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2011. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 61(4): Table 63. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6104.pdf

·Data for 2009: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 4, 2010). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2009. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 59(5): Table 61. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5905.pdf

·Data for 2007: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 6, 2008). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2007. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 57(4): Table 61. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5704.pdf

·Data for 2005: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2006). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2005. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 55(5): Table 44. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5505.pdf

·Data for 2003: US Department of Health and Human Services. (May 21, 2004). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2003. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 53(2): Table 42. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5302.pdf

·Data for 2001: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 28, 2002). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2001. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 51(4): Table 30. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5104.pdf

·Data for 1999: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2000). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1999. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 49(5): Table 30. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4905.pdf

·Data for 1997: US Department of Health and Human Services. (August 14, 1998). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1997. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 47(3): Table 26. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4703.pdf

·Data for 1995: US Department of Health and Human Services. (September 27, 1996). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1995. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 45(4): Table 26. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4504.pdf

·Data for 1993: US Department of Health and Human Services. (March 24, 1995). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1993. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 44(1): table 20. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4401.pdf

·Data for 1991: YRBSS: Youth Online, Comprehensive Results. Retrieved May 24, 2004 from URL: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/yrbss/. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Raw Data Source

Youth Risk Behavior Survey

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/index.htmper1,000 for children ages 16 to 17. (Figure 2)

Appendix 1: Percentage of High School Students1 Who Report Having Ever Had Sexual Intercourse, Selected Years, 1991-2011

1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011
All Students 54.1 53.0 53.1 48.4 49.9 45.6 46.7 46.8 47.8 46.0 47.4
Race/Ethnicity3
Non-Hispanic White 50.0 48.4 48.9 43.6 45.1 43.2 41.8 43.0 43.7 42.0 44.3
Non-Hispanic Black 81.5 79.7 73.4 72.7 71.2 60.8 67.3 67.6 66.5 65.2 60.0
Hispanic 53.1 56.0 57.6 52.2 54.1 48.4 51.4 51.0 52.0 49.1 48.6
Grade
9 39.0 37.7 36.9 38.0 38.6 34.4 32.8 34.3 32.8 31.6 32.9
10 48.2 46.1 48.0 42.5 46.8 40.8 44.1 42.8 43.8 40.9 43.8
11 62.4 57.5 58.6 49.7 52.5 51.9 53.2 51.4 55.5 53.0 53.2
12 66.7 68.3 66.4 60.9 64.9 60.5 61.6 63.1 64.6 62.3 63.1
Male 57.4 55.6 54.0 48.9 52.2 48.5 48.0 47.9 49.8 46.1 49.2
Race/Ethnicity3
Non-Hispanic White 52.7 49.3 48.9 43.3 45.4 45.1 40.5 42.2 43.6 39.6 44.0
Non-Hispanic Black 88.1 89.2 81.0 80.3 75.7 68.8 73.8 74.6 72.6 72.1 66.9
Hispanic 64.1 63.5 62.0 57.7 62.9 53.0 56.8 57.6 58.2 52.8 53.0
Grade
9 45.6 43.5 40.6 41.8 44.5 40.5 37.3 39.3 38.1 33.6 37.8
10 50.9 47.4 50.0 41.7 51.1 42.2 45.1 41.5 45.6 41.9 44.5
11 64.5 59.5 57.1 49.3 51.4 54.0 53.4 50.6 57.3 53.4 54.5
12 68.3 70.2 67.1 60.1 63.9 61.0 60.7 63.8 62.8 59.6 62.6
1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011
Female 50.8 50.2 52.1 47.7 47.7 42.9 45.3 45.7 45.9 45.7 45.6
Race/Ethnicity3
Non-Hispanic White 47.1 47.4 49.0 44.0 44.8 41.3 43.0 43.7 43.7 44.7 44.5
Non-Hispanic Black 75.9 70.4 67.0 65.6 66.9 53.4 60.9 61.2 60.9 58.3 53.6
Hispanic 43.3 48.3 53.3 45.7 45.5 44.0 46.4 44.4 45.8 45.4 43.9
Grade
9 32.2 31.6 32.1 34.0 32.5 29.1 27.9 29.3 27.4 29.3 27.8
10 45.3 44.9 46.0 43.5 42.6 39.3 43.1 44.0 41.9 39.6 43.0
11 60.2 55.1 60.2 50.3 53.8 49.7 53.1 52.1 53.6 52.5 51.9
12 65.1 66.3 66.0 61.9 65.8 60.1 62.3 62.4 66.2 65.0 63.6
1Estimates do not include youth who dropped out of school and therefore may not reflect total national values3Race/ethnicity estimates from 1999 and later are not directly comparable to earlier years due to federal changes in race definitions. In surveys conducted in 1999 and later, respondents were allowed to select more than one race when selecting their racial category. Estimates presented only include respondents who selected one category when choosing their race.Sources:Data for 2011: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 8, 2012). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2011. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 61(4): Table 63. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6104.pdfData for 2009: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 4, 2010). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2009. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 59(5): Table 61. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5905.pdfData for 2007: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 6, 2008). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2007. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 57(4): Table 61. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5704.pdfData for 2005: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2006). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2005. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 55(5): Table 44. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5505.pdfData for 2003: US Department of Health and Human Services. (May 21, 2004). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2003. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 53(2): Table 42. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5302.pdfData for 2001: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 28, 2002). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 2001. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 51(4): Table 30. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS5104.pdfData for 1999: US Department of Health and Human Services. (June 9, 2000). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1999. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 49(5): Table 30. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4905.pdfData for 1997: US Department of Health and Human Services. (August 14, 1998). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1997. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 47(3): Table 26. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4703.pdfData for 1995: US Department of Health and Human Services. (September 27, 1996). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1995. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 45(4): Table 26. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4504.pdfData for 1993: US Department of Health and Human Services. (March 24, 1995). Youth risk behavior surveillance: United States 1993. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 44(1): table 20. Available at:http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/SS/SS4401.pdfData for 1991: YRBSS: Youth Online, Comprehensive Results. Retrieved May 24, 2004 from URL:http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/yrbss/. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Endnotes


[1]Kaiser Family Foundation. (2005). U.S. teen sexual activity. Author: Washington, DC.

[2]Abma, J. C, Martinez, G. M., and Copen, C. E. (2010). Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2008. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics, 23(30).

[3]Ibid.

[4]Santelli, J. S., Brener, N. D., Lowry, R., Bhatt, A., & Zabin, L. (1998). Multiple sexual partners among U.S. adolescents and young adults. Family Planning Perspectives, 30(6), 271-275.

[5]Manlove, J., Ikramullah, E., Mincieli, L., Holcombe, E. & Danish, S. (2009). Trends in sexual

experience, contraceptive use, and teenage childbearing: 1992- 2002. Journal of Adolescent Health,

5, 413-423.

[6]Armour, S. and Haynie, D. (2007). Adolescent sexual debut and later delinquency. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 141-152.

[7]Hallfors, D., Waller, M. W., Bauer, D, Ford, C. A., and Halpern, C. T. (2005). Which comes first in adolescence - Sex and drugs, or depression? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29(3), 163-170.

[8]Spriggs, A, and Halpern C. (2008) Timings of sexual debut and initiation of postsecondary education by early adulthood. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 40(3), 152-161.

[9]Price, M. & Hyde, J. (2009). When two isn't better than one: Predictors of early sexual activity in adolescence using a cumulative risk model. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(8), 1059-1071.

[10]Manlove, J., Ikramullah, E., Mincieli, L., Holcombe, E. & Danish, S. (2009). Op. Cit.

[11]Commendator, K. (2010). Parental influences on adolescent decision making and contraceptive use. Pediatric Nursing, 36(3).

[12]Longmore, M. A., Eng, A. L., Giordano, P. C., and Manning, W. D. (2009). Parenting and adolescents' sexual initiation. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71 (4), 969-982.

[13]Ibid.

[14]Hipwell, A. E., Keenan, K., Loeber, R., and Battista, D. (2010). Early predictors of sexually intimate behaviors in an urban sample of young girls. Developmental Psychology, 46 (2), 366-378.

[15]Martinez, G. M., Copen, C. E., Abma, J. C.(2011) and Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics, 23(31).

[16]Hispanics may be any race. Totals for whites and blacks do not include Hispanics.

[17]Brindis, C. (2006). A public health success: Understanding policy changes related to teen sexual activity and pregnancy. Annual Review of Public Health, 27(1), 277-297.

[18]LaChausse, R.G. (2006).Evaluation of the Positive Prevention HIV/STD curriculum. American Journal of Health Education, 37(4), 203-209.

[19]Cabezon, C., Vigil, P., Rojas, I., Leiva, M. E., Riquelme, R., Aranda, W., & Garcia, C. (2005).Adolescent pregnancy prevention: An abstinence-centered randomized controlled intervention in a Chilean public high school. Journal of Adolescent Health, 36, 64-69.

[20]O'Donnell, L., Stueve, A., O'Donnell, C., Duran, R., San Doval, A., Wilson, R.F., Haber, D., Perry, E., and Pleck, J.H. (2002). Long-term reductions in sexual initiation and sexual activity among urban middle schoolers in Reach for Health Service Learning Program. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31, 93-100.