Although teenagers feel that waiting to have sex is a nice idea, they believe that hardly anyone does it. In fact, many teens -- particularly boys -- feel pressure to have sex, and they say drugs and alcohol usually lead to sex -- often without condoms.

The teen survey, released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, portrays a comprehensive picture of youth attitudes and the risk of STDs and pregnancy. Despite the fact that both teen pregnancy and birth rates have been declining for a decade, the Kaiser survey spotlights areas of concern:

  • About one in six young people say having sex without a condom occasionally is not a big deal.

  • About one in five say they have had unprotected sex after drinking or using drugs.

  • Four in 10 sexually active teenagers have taken a pregnancy test or had a partner who did so.

  • More than half of 15-to-17-year-olds say they have been with someone in a sexual way.

  • Among teens that have abstained from sex, nearly a third say they have been "intimate" with a partner.

In contrast to the common portrait of boys pressuring girls, the Kaiser study found that boys in particular face pressure to have sex, often from male friends. One in three boys ages 15-17 admitted they feel pressure to have sex, compared with 23 percent of girls. "There are a lot of expectations for boys to be sexually active, " said Julia Davis, senior program officer at the Kaiser Family Foundation, an independent group that studies health issues.

"Changing social norms and cultural expectations as well as delayed marriage means many young people have multiple sexual relationships in their lifetimes and need the information and tools to make healthy decisions and communicate with their partners," the report said.

Back to other CDC news for May 20, 2003

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