The number of high-school-age teens who are having sex dropped markedly over a decade, a trend that includes substantial declines among younger students, African Americans and Hispanics, according to a new government report released Thursday.
The survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed especially steep declines in the past two years. It adds to evidence about ongoing progress in reducing risky behavior by teenagers, who are becoming pregnant, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using marijuana at rates lower than younger people before them, according to public health surveys.
“Early initiation of sexual activity is associated with having more sexual partners, not using condoms, sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy during adolescence,” the report noted. It called the falling rate of sexual activity among 9th- and 10th-graders “especially encouraging.”
The researchers said they could not attribute the trend “directly to any specific intervention,” but experts have previously cited a number of factors, most importantly access in school and online to straightforward information about sex and contraception.