To update this post, “Teen Sex Statistics,” the New York Times has an article up titled, “The Myth of Rampant Teenage Promiscuity” by Tara Parker-Pope (January 26, 2009).  She reports:

Today, fewer than half of all high school students have had sex: 47.8 percent as of 2007, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, down from 54.1 percent in 1991.

A less recent report suggests that teenagers are also waiting longer to have sex than they did in the past. A 2002 report from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 30 percent of 15- to 17-year-old girls had experienced sex, down from 38 percent in 1995. During the same period, the percentage of sexually experienced boys in that age group dropped to 31 percent from 43 percent.

The rates also went down among younger teenagers. In 1995, about 20 percent said they had had sex before age 15, but by 2002 those numbers had dropped to 13 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys.

In the article she quotes sociologist Kathleen A. Bogle, author of “Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus.” Influenced by Bogle’s work, the article points to the changing context within which teens establish relationships and suggests that such contextual considerations should be taken into account when interpreting recent teen sex statistics.  She also quotes sociologist Maria Kefalas, author of “Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage.”

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