U.S. Teens, Young Adults 'Doing It' Less, Study Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Stobbe and Carla K. Johnson Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Fewer teens and young adults are having sex, a government survey shows, and theories abound for why they're doing it less.

Experts say this generation may be more cautious than their predecessors, more aware of sexually spread diseases. Or perhaps emphasis on abstinence in the past decade has had some influence.

Or maybe they're just too busy.

"It's not even on my radar," said 17-year-old Abbey King of Hinsdale, Ill., a competitive swimmer who starts her day at 5 a.m. and falls into bed at 10:30 p.m. after swimming, school, weight lifting, running, more swimming, homework and a volunteer gig working with service dogs for the disabled.

The study, released Thursday, is based on interviews of about 5,300 young people, ages 15 to 24. It shows the proportion in that age group who said they'd never had oral, vaginal or anal sex rose in the past decade from 22 percent to about 28 percent.

The findings are sure to surprise some parents who see skin and lust in the media and worry that sex is rampant.

"Many parents and adults look at teens and sex and see nothing but a blur of bare midriffs. They think things are terrible and getting worse," said Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

There are other surveys of sexual behavior, but this is considered the largest and most reliable. "It's the gold standard," Albert said.

Health scientist Anjani Chandra of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described the decline in sex as small but significant. She declined to speculate on the reasons. It's difficult to look for a trend earlier than 2002 because previous surveys did not gather as much detail about various types of sex, she added. …