In a world of Oprah-for-president rumors and Russia-Trump collusion theories, there is some good news: Teenagers are having less sex.
According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there’s been an “overall decrease in the prevalence of ever having had sexual intercourse during 2005-2015” and “[n]ationwide, the proportion of high school students who had ever had sexual intercourse decreased significantly overall and among 9th and 10th grade students, non-Hispanic black (black) students in all grades, and Hispanic students in three grades.”
This is a positive thing, and the CDC reports at length about all the different qualifiers, but it doesn’t answer the most pressing question: Why?
The first thing that popped into my mind, honestly, was they were too busy playing on their iPhones. Turns out, that’s not an entirely crazy theory. In 2015 the Washington Post explored this option and reported teens could have more access to information on the web about issues like sex, could be more informed about sex, and thus are making better decisions. (Or they could just be too busy texting — sexting? — to bother.)
Sex education at school could play another role in decreasing the amount of sex kids are having. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports, “States that taught comprehensive sex and/or HIV education and covered abstinence along with contraception and condom use ... [abstinence-plus] tended to have the lowest teen pregnancy rates” and as of 2016, 37 states require abstinence education be provided.
So while all sex education should not be left to schools — I still firmly believe it should at least begin in the home — it sounds like a combination of condom use and abstinence seems to be providing enough sex education that it’s deterring some kids from having sex at all.
Because sexual activity is decreasing, so too are teen pregnancy, births, and abortions. Abortion rates among women of all ages are at the lowest they have been since Roe v. Wade. While pro-life advocates report with enthusiasm lower abortion rates, they are often hesitant to attribute this, in part at least, to teenagers’ decreased sexual activity. Admittedly, this is subjective and anecdotal, but often it seems much more inspiring to believe that young women are choosing adoption rather than simply abstinence; that they have rejected abortion because their minds have changed, rather than because they simply aren’t getting pregnant in the first place.
Still, either way, a decrease in sexual activity among teens is good not only for society, but as it has likely decreased the number of abortions as well.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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