By Valerie Huber
“Teenagers have sex. Deal with it.” That was a dismissive statement by a blogger in 2012 who taught at Yale University’s School of Public Health.
Fortunately, teens did deal with it—by not having sex. They seemed to have missed this flippant blog and ignored this careless advice from adults who should know better.
On June 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the new 2015 data from the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which updates what we know about youth and their engagement in health risk behaviors.
The results show that fewer teens are drinking than before, less are involved in physical fighting, and teen smoking hit its lowest level since the government began tracking it in 1991.
But the big news is the dramatic increase in the percentage of teens who have never had sex. Since 1991 (the first year the CDC began tracking youth risk behaviors), the percent of high school students who have never had sex has increased 28 percent. In real numbers, that means that nearly 6 in 10 teens are making the healthiest choice by waiting for sex—the highest percent to date.
When the CDC released the news a few months ago that teen birth rates are now at an all-time low, few suggested that waiting for sex might be a significant reason. Instead, many proposed the decline was due to teens using more contraception, or teens’ concern with the economy, and even the effects of the MTV reality show, “16 and Pregnant.”
They weren’t getting pregnant, but many thought it almost inconceivable that teen birth rates might be dropping because teens weren’t having sex.