The answer depends on where and when.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) just released their brand new Youth Risk Behavior Survey (one of the three studies I’ve been anticipating), a study released every other year that asks teenagers about risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, fighting at school, sexual activity… and even if they wear a seatbelt. The report breaks the numbers down by state, race, or grade, as well as providing national averages.
As an author who is just finishing up two books about sex, one to parents and another to teenagers, I immediately turned to the section with the sexual activity numbers.
This year the national percentages of high school students who “ever had sexual intercourse” haven’t changed much at all, at lease not statistically notable. If you compare this brand new 2013 chart below to the previous 2011 chart, you won’t notice much difference.
Here’s the brand new numbers…
Compared to the previous 2011 numbers…
In short, just under 50% of ALL high school kids have already had sex. If you break it down by grade, you’ll see that 30% of high school freshman have had sex, and 64% seniors will have had sex by the time they walk across the stage to receive their diploma. (I think you see the need for conversations about sex during the teen years.)
Have these numbers changed much over the years?
In the last decade, no. The numbers haven’t even moved two percentage points (in a survey that admittedly has a 95% confidence interval). But if you go back 20 years you’ll actually see the numbers have gone down about 8%, which is statistically notable. A few years ago I did some research to find out why those numbers have changed and found some interesting results.
I encourage you to take a quick peek at this CDC YRBS report sometime this week. I always like to browse through it, looking at marijuana use, tobacco use and sexual activity. The numbers are fascinating and provide a pretty accurate picture of how common some of these risky behaviors are.
The CDC also provides a handy tool called YOUTH ONLINE which allows you to pull up custom reports on any of this data from 1991 to 2013. In other words, you can choose to look at how many kids currently use Marijuana (that means they have used it in the last 30 days) from 1991 to now, by grade, by state, or nationally. You’ll be surprised to see the numbers haven’t changed in the last few years, with the biggest rise over a decade ago.
Take a peek and tell me your thoughts.
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