Adolescent sexuality in the United States

Adolescent sexuality in the United States relates to the sexuality of American adolescents and its place in American society, both in terms of their feelings, behaviors and development and in terms of the response of the government, educators and interested groups.

For teenagers, sex is considered an emotionally powerful experience, combined with risks and psychological changes. "All adolescents have sex lives, whether they are sexually active with others, with themselves, or seemingly not at all," and viewing adolescent sexuality as a potentially positive experience, rather than as something inherently dangerous, may help young people develop healthier patterns and make more positive choices regarding sex. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the year 2007, 35% of US high school students were currently sexually active and 47.8% of US high school students reported having had sexual intercourse. This percentage has decreased slightly since 1991. While some researchers suggest that teens are increasingly engaging in oral sex, other studies indicate that there has been little change in either oral sex or vaginal sex among teen opposite-sex partners over the past decade. A minority, 13%, of children aged 15 have experienced vaginal sex.

Every year, an estimated 1 in 4 sexually active teens contracts an STI, and teenage pregnancy is 2 to 10 times more prevalent in the United States than in other similarly developed countries. Among sexually active 15- to 19-year-olds, 83% of females and 91% of males reported using at least one method of birth control during last intercourse. A majority of adolescents have been provided with some information regarding sexuality, though there have been efforts among social conservatives in the United States government to limit sex education in public schools to abstinence-only sex education curricula.

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