Good News Concerning Teen Sexual Behavior (or maybe not)
As I have stated before, one of my goals as a public health advocate and author of my memoir The Lost Son: A Rock 'n' Roll Road to Redemption, is to educate teens and young adults about the consequences of high-risk sexual behavior in order to reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies, abortions and STDs. Now according to the results of the most recent National Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted annually by the CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) reported sexual behavior among teens has declined significantly, from 46.8% in 2013 to 41.2% in 2015 (as reported by Lenny Bernstein in The Washington Post article "Fewer teens having sex as risky behaviors decline," reprinted in The Buffalo News on Jan. 5, 2018).
The article further states that the CDC survey results "adds to evidence about ongoing progress in reducing risky behavior by teenagers, who are becoming pregnant, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using marijuana at lower rates than younger people before them."
However, Laura Lindberg, principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive rights and health, noted, "We need to see if this is a short-term blip or this is something that is going to continue. The drops are very large in 2015, and that raises questions of survey value."
Indeed, not only is it too soon to determine whether this truly is a behavioral trend in teenage sexual behavior rather than a temporary fluke, the article contradicts the result of the CDC survey by reporting that a different national survey- which is conducted in teenagers' homes as opposed to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is done in schools- shows little change in teens' sexual behavior. So which survey is accurate? Are teens actually having sex less- as they report in school- or about the same- as they report when asked at home? I don't know the answer, but ultimately what matters more is the outcome- are declines in the teenage pregnancy rate, birth rate and STD infections continuing? That is what needs to be monitored going forward to know for sure whether teenagers' reproductive health is improving, and subsequently, their educational and socioeconomic status is rising.