Are Teens As Sex-Crazed As Pop Culture Makes Them Out To Be?

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teenage couple relaxing on bed
The CDC finds that just under half of all American teenagers have had sex.

According to popular network TV shows, 100 percent of American teens have had sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, the actual percentage is just under half of that. What Teen Sex Survey Says About Monogamy

In their recently released Vital Signs report, the CDC announced that 46 percent percent of male and female high school students reported engaging in sexual intercourse, compared to 54 percent of teens in 1991. Continuing on that trend, around 9 percent of teens used two methods of birth control during sex, up from just 5 percent of teens two decades ago. Do Teens Or Thirtysomethings Have Safer Sex?

Statistically, teens today are having less sex than we did in high school, and despite what trendy teen mom reality shows depict, they're giving birth less frequently as well. The data concerning teen sexual activity is only one factor of the study's greater purpose, which is to assess the effectiveness of sexual education in preventing teen pregnancies. Study: Women Feel Worse About Themselves After Losing Virginity

Sixty-five percent of girls and 53 percent of the boys surveyed had undergone formal education about abstinence and birth control. The vast majority of teenagers knew what they were doing; just 5 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys hadn't received formal sex ed before having sex. CDC officials aren't entirely satisfied, though. Although the nationwide teen birth rate has fallen 37 percent since 1991, it is still nine times higher that of most developed countries.

The implication here is that sexual education works. Its effects might unfold more slowly than expected, but teens are listening. Thanks to the the ubiquity of so-called "pregnancy pacts," and TV shows like MTV's Teen Mom or CW's Gossip Girl, it's easy to conclude that teenagers nowadays are having a ton of unprotected sex because popular entertainment encourages it. As the CDC's study suggests, though, it's far more likely that the sensationalism makes them think twice before doing the deed.

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