By Helen Gibson
While Americans are becoming more lenient on a host of moral issues, teenagers today seem to be approaching sex and pregnancy differently than those who came before them.
Fewer teens reported sexual activity in 2017 than in the 10 years prior, according to the CDC’s recently released Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Additionally, birth rates among teenage women are at their lowest recorded levels, according to the CDC’s 2018 National Vital Statistics Report.
For Christians who discourage sexual relationships outside of marriage, these statistics provide interesting insight into the experiences of American teenagers.
The declining rate of teenagers giving birth
In 1991, the birth rate among American women aged 15 to 19 was 61.8 births per 1,000 women, according to the National Vital Statistics Report. In recent years, however, the birth rate among that age group has followed a pattern of decline.
Since 1991, the rate of women in this age group giving birth has decreased 67 percent, and it’s reached a new low each year since 2009, according to the National Vital Statistics Report.
This resulted in nearly a third (20.3 births per 1,000) of the number of 15-to-19-year-old women giving birth in 2016.
Sexual activity among teens
Teens are also reporting fewer sexual relationships.
Every two years, the CDC releases its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, in which students at public and private high schools across the U.S. are asked about their sexual behavior, among other topics.
In 2017, almost 4 in 10 students said they’d had sex—a rate that’s 8.3 percentage points lower than what it was in 2007. And while 35 percent of students in 2007 said they were sexually active, only 28.7 said the same in 2017.
The rate of students who said they’d had four or more sexual partners declined 5.2 percentage points from 10 years ago, falling from 14.9 in 2007 to 9.7 in 2017.
Teens are also reporting higher rates of hormonal birth control use, though they are reporting lower rates of condom use.
Still, the CDC says teens are at significant risk for sexually transmitted diseases, pointing to statistics from their 2016 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance report.
“While the proportion of high school students who are sexually active has steadily declined, half of the 20 million new STDs reported each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 and 24,” the CDC says.
It went on to say 21 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. are among people aged 13-24 years old, with most of those being among the 20-24 age group.
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HELEN GIBSON (@_HelenGibson_) is a freelance writer in Cadiz, Kentucky.