Survey: Sex Often Part of Casual Teen Relationships

A new survey of 15- to 17-year olds has found that, at least in terms of teens' perceptions, oral sex and intercourse are nearly as common in casual relationships as they are in more serious, committed relationships.

About one-third of the 505 teens interviewed by telephone reported that they had done "something sexual" in a casual relationship, including 14 percent who said they had had sexual intercourse. One- third said they had sexual intercourse in a committed relationship.

According to the survey by SexSmarts, a partnership between the Kaiser Family Foundation and Seventeen magazine, while 26 percent of surveyed teens said that oral sex was part of a dating relationship, 23 percent said that oral sex was typical of a casual relationship, or "hooking up." Twenty-seven percent said dating relationships "almost always" or "most of the time" included sexual intercourse, while 24 percent said intercourse was usually part of a casual relationship. Kissing was also described as part of a more committed relationship.

Cheating on a boyfriend or girlfriend was common, said nearly one-quarter of teens. Respondents said they were less likely to use condoms if they were in a serious relationship.

More than 70 percent said that girls are more entitled to request that a boyfriend use a condom, compared to someone they are "hooking up" with. However, girls in longer-term relationships were more likely to report using birth control pills and less likely to say they used condoms. Discussions about sexual history and STD testing were also more common in longer-term relationships. And when it comes to sexual decision-making, knowing and even trusting another person is not the only factor influencing what a teen might do, according to the survey. More than two-thirds said that alcohol and drugs affect their decisions, and slightly more said they are influenced by what the other person wants to do. What a parent might think was important to 68 percent of teens.

The findings are published in the October issue of Seventeen.

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