Adolescence is a natural time for youth to be interested in and experimenting with sexual intercourse. A combination of hormones, peer and social pressure, and influence from the media make the drive to become sexually active even more intense.
What the Data Tells Us:
The decision for adolescents to become sexually active comes with a lot of responsibility, and often consequences. It is estimated that 48%% of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and 15% of high school students have had four or more sex partners during their life. These rates disproportionally affect African American high school students, who are more likely to have had sexual intercourse (67%) compared to Caucasian (44%) and Hispanic students (52%).
Many young adults are also engaging in oral sex, and consider it to me less risky in terms of health, social, and emotional consequences than vaginal sex. Many of the consequences of adolescent sexual intercourse, such as unintended pregnancy and STI infections, occur because of lack of condom use. Adolescents are much more likely to engage in unprotected sex when under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol. Adolescents who use alcohol or drugs are 5-7 times more likely to have sex and almost one-quarter of currently sexually active students reported using alcohol or drugs during their most recent sexual encounter.
Try These Messages With Youth:
– “Having sex can be fun and mean a lot of different and positive things to you, but it can also lead to unexpected problems. Having sex can lead to pregnancy or getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also change your relationship and how you feel about each other, and not always for the better.”
– “Some people feel pressured to have sex, especially if they have done it before. Remember, you can always say no. Just because you have had sex before, it does not mean that you have to keep doing it.”
– “If you do think you are ready, be sure to talk to your partner about using protection and getting tested. It is important to be open and honest in your communication with your partner. These topics can seem awkward at first, but honesty allows you and your partner to become closer and feel more comfortable with each other. You have the power to keep yourself safe from pregnancy and infection.”
Websites for Youth:
Sex, Etc. is part of the Teen-to-Teen Sexuality Education Project developed by Answer, a national organization dedicated to providing and promoting comprehensive sexuality education to young people and the adults in their lives.)
AVERT is an international HIV and AIDS charity, based in the UK, working to avert HIV and AIDS worldwide, through education, treatment and care.