More Teen Girls Having Sex, Study Shows

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Teen sexual activity has stabilized, although more teenage girls are saying they have had intercourse, a federal report says.

In 2003, 46.7 percent of teens said they had had sexual intercourse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in its new Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. This is statistically the same as 2001, when 45.6 percent of teens said they had had sexual intercourse, the CDC said.

The CDC also noted several improvements in teen behavior in the past 12 years. For instance, since 1991, the percentage of high school students who have been in a physical fight dropped from 43 percent to 33 percent.

The portion of students who smoked fell from 28 percent in 1991 to 22 percent in 2003; and the portion of students who have ever drunk alcoholic beverages fell from 82 percent in 1991 to 75 percent in 2003.

The number of teens who said they rode with a driver who had been drinking fell from 40 percent in 1991 to 30.2 percent in 2003. "That's really good news, and it reminds you that you can have positive change," said Kristin Moore, president of Child Trends, a nonprofit research group in the District.

However, a higher number of teenage girls in all ethnic groups and most grades in high school reported having had sexual intercourse in 2003. In contrast, a smaller percentage of boys, except for black youths, reported having had sexual intercourse.

Teen condom use rose by five percentage points, with 63 percent of teens saying they used a condom the last time they had sex, said a spokeswoman for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

"It reminds you that these are behaviors. …