- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2014

The sexual revolution looks to be on hold with American youth: A major survey has found for the seventh time that most high school students have not had sexual intercourse.

In 2013, 46.8 percent of teens in the ninth through 12th grades said they had had sexual intercourse. This was essentially unchanged since 2001, the federal government said in its new Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), released in the June 13 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The story was different in the 1990s, when the survey found that most high-school-age teens  — as high as 54 percent — reported having sexual intercourse.

By 2001, however, in the wake of a burgeoning movement for sexual abstinence and campaigns to prevent teen pregnancy and avoid sexual disease, teens shifted their behaviors, with many opting to delay sexual intercourse until they were out of high school.

The survey found plateaus in other areas of sexual activity as well: In 2013, the number of teens who had sexual intercourse in the last three months was 34 percent, essentially the same as previous years. Moreover, the number of teens who said they have had four or more sexual partners was 15 percent, about the same as since 2001.

An area that saw a dramatic change was the number of teens who smoke every day — this fell to 15.7 percent, the lowest in 22 years.

“It’s encouraging that high school students are making better health choices such as not fighting, not smoking, and not having sex,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which publishes the MMWR.

However, the area of teen obesity and overweight remained a problem: About a third to 47 percent of teens are struggling with their weight, the new survey found.

The YRBS is taken every two years in public and private schools. In the new survey, more than 13,000 students in 42 states and 21 major school districts areas were questioned about many lifestyle issues, including bicycle helmet use; suicide attempts; diet; physical activity; use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco; and sexual behaviors.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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