Teenage girls in the United States are more likely than boys to have unprotected sex during their first sexual experience, new research indicates.
The finding was a surprise to researcher Nicole Weller, an Arizona State University graduate student working on her doctoral degree in sociology.
“I’m looking at the interaction between sexual education and how it impacts young adolescent sexual behavior. This in particular was an interesting finding because males usually report that they are having more sex than females,” Weller said in a university news release.
Her analysis of data from the National Survey of Family Growth also found that young people are waiting longer than in the past to have a first sexual encounter, but they are contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) earlier than in the past.
“Fifteen- to 19-year-olds have the most sexually transmitted diseases. Even though they are waiting, they are having risky sex and not taking precautions,” Weller said.
According to Weller, it’s important to provide sex education at a young age. “The younger one receives sexual education, the less likely you are to engage in risky sex,” she said.
But the type of sexual education provided in U.S. schools is inconsistent — from abstinence to STD awareness, and from birth control to pregnancy awareness. “It varies in school districts and from state to state,” she added.
According to Centers for Disease Control surveys, Texas teens have unprotected sex far more often than the national average. In states and cities with “abstinence-plus” teaching policies, the rate of unprotected sex drops below the national average. Houston, for example, has an abstinence-plus teaching policy, and CDC surveys show Houston teens as below the national average for unprotected sex.
Research also shows that younger children seek their parent’s advice more than adolescents, who tend to depend more on their friends and the media. Take advantage of the opportunity to talk to your young children about issues of sexual health. Talking to your kids about issues like dating and relationships, STDs, and HIV can leave a lasting impression. This will help you provide your children with information that is accurate and reflects your personal values and principles.