Adolescent Sexuality in The United States

Adolescent sexuality in the United States relates to the sexuality of American adolescents and its place in American society, both in terms of their feelings, behaviors and development and in terms of the response of the government, educators and interested groups.

For teenagers, sex is considered an emotionally powerful experience, combined with risks and psychological changes. "Early sexual intercourse among American adolescents represents a major public health problem" according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which believes that "unrealistic, inaccurate, and misleading information" about sex in film, television, and music play a significant role in contributing to the problem. "The earlier an individual engages in sexual activity, the more risk he or she has for negative mental and physical health outcomes. Becoming sexually active at a young age can create stress, put a strain on romantic relationships, and diminish feelings of self-worth."

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the year 2007, 35% of US high school students were currently sexually active and 47.8% of US high school students reported having had sexual intercourse. This percentage has decreased slightly since 1991. While some researchers suggest that teens are increasingly engaging in oral sex, other studies indicate that there has been little change in either oral sex or vaginal sex among teen opposite-sex partners over the past decade. A minority, 13%, of children aged 15 have experienced vaginal sex.

Every year, an estimated 1 in 4 sexually active teens contracts an STD, and teenage pregnancy is 2 to 10 times more prevalent in the United States than in other similarly developed countries. Among sexually active 15- to 19-year-olds, 83% of females and 91% of males reported using at least one method of birth control during last intercourse. A majority of adolescents have been provided with some information regarding sexuality, though there have been efforts among social conservatives in the United States government to limit sex education in public schools to abstinence-only sex education curricula.

As "teenagers are not mature enough to know all the ramifications of what they're doing," "early sexual activity - whether in or out of a romantic relationship - does far more harm than good." With all the issues and problems relating to adolescent sex, according to the Medical College of Wisconsin, "Ideally, they won’t be having sex, but if they are or intend to, the next best thing is that they understand the importance of protecting themselves against pregnancy, HIV and STDs."

Read more about Adolescent Sexuality In The United StatesSexual Behavior, Social and Cultural Aspects, Physical Effects, Psychological Effects, Sexual Minorities, Knowledge of Sexuality, Correlation With Other Risk Behaviors

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Michigan State University Twin Registry - Adolescent Twin Study
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