Teen Sexual Culture: Increasingly Responsible

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

db58_fig1It’s one of the great success stories. Yet, you probably haven’t heard it.

Over the past two decades there have been extraordinary declines in teen pregnancy (down 42%) and teen childbearing (down 49%). The good news is found in all 50 states and every racial/ethnic group — all have made significant progress. In fact, as shown in the graph at right, birth rates have declined almost continuously since 1957.

Many will say that abortion and birth control are the driving forces in the decline in teen births. Yet, the facts paint a different picture. Both contraception and abortion have been constants over time, and contraceptives are often not even used. The new factor in the equation is more effective and widespread abstinence education.

Even more positive, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Survey of Family Growth, acknowledges that “the proportion of teen girls and women who are ‘sexually experienced’ has been falling for 20 years.”

Here are some related facts to consider.

  • Abstinent teens have better academic performance (higher GPAs and improved verbal and numerical aptitude skills) than sexually experienced teens.
    • Abstinent teens display better associated social benefits (stronger peer relations, positive youth development, and awareness of the consequences of risky behavior, such as teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases) than sexually experienced teens.
  • Condom use does not prevent any of the 49 sexually transmitted diseases (STD) present today (up from 3 STDs in the 1960s); it merely reduces the risk of transmission.
    • And about 75% of teens say that they didn’t use contraception the last time they had sex. So to claim declining teen births is due to contraceptive usage is unlikely.
  • Cohabitation increases the risk of nonmarital births.
  • The CDC agrees that abstaining from sexual activity is a reliable way to avoid transmission of STDs.
    • Overall, 17 of the 22 abstinence studies evaluating virginity pledges reported statistically significant positive results.

Based on the evidence, everyone should promote risk-avoidance programs that lead to these positive outcomes for America’s youth.

Hopefully, these findings will support parents that uphold Christian standards in the face of popular culture.