The teen intercourse rate fell below 50% a decade ago. The teen pregnancy rate has been dropping for twice that long. Of those teens who do have sex, nearly 2/3rds now say they use condoms. The teen birth rate has hit a record low. All of this good news is in a just-released federal report.
The only thing that bothers me about this report is that the reason the government gives for the improvement. Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics, said "The lower figure on teens having sex means the risk of sexually transmitted disease is lower." He is right, of course, and lowering the risk of STDs is a good thing. But think of how else he might have finished that sentence. "The lower figure on teens having sex means ...
- that more teens see the value of saving sex for marriage
- that more teens understand that their children will be healthier and happier if they wait until they are older to have them
- that more teens understand that sex is better if it is part of a mature commitment, one they are not ready to make yet
- that more teen girls understand that they do not have to say yes to hold on to a guy
- that more teen boys understand that they should not press a girl to say yes even when she wants to please him
- that more teens understand that popular culture is saturated with sex because it is an easy way to sell things, not because that is the way real life should be
... and a dozen other positive, mature reasons why some teenagers control their natural desires more sensibly.
Sex is not primarily about disease and death. Smart kids know that.