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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Teens and sex

I heard this report on CNN this morning.  I was struck by how misleading the lead sentence is.   A large minority of teens say they are waiting to have sex because of moral or religious reasons - that does not neatly translate into "fear the wrath of God."  Many, if not most of, religions teach ethical and moral choices based, not on the fear of God or retribution, but on positive outcomes and self-respect. And I am very curious about the breakdown of moral v. religious reasons, which were combined in this report (it sounds like they were also combined in the survey).  I think CNN missed an opportunity to say something really meaningful with this reporting - teens embracing a higher sense of morality is great news, and fascinating.  Dismissing this with cute but misleading language is rather beneath them, IMO.

Teenagers do not fear warts and bodily havoc caused by sexually transmitted diseases.  The ones who abstain from sex are more worried about the wrath of God.
A report by the National Center for Health Statistics that surveyed 4,662 teenagers, asked those who abstained why they had chosen not to have sex. The top reason for both males and females between the age of 15 and 19, was that sexual intercourse was “against religion or morals.”  They were least likely to be concerned about STDs.
The report on teenage sexual activities released Wednesday found that the rate of teenagers having sex has declined slightly from the last report released in 2002, but this change was not substantial.  It follows an overall trend of decline in teenage sex in the last 20 years.
The data came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national survey.
“This study helps inform public health and to try to understand the factors behind teen pregnancy rates and birth rates,” said lead author, Gladys Martinez, a statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics.  
The report also found increases in male teens using condoms and females using injectable birth control such as Depo-Provera,  contraceptive patches at the time of their first sexual intercourse.



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