Sex among U.S. teen-agers has become so common that more than half of all young women have had intercourse by the time they turn 20, and a majority of those have had two or more sexual partners by that age, a new study has found.
The change has been due mostly to a sharp rise in sexual activity among white and higher-income female teens, while intercourse levels among minority and low-income teens have increased only slightly in the last five years, according to the
study released this week by the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York.
At the same time, the study found, public warnings about AIDS, venereal disease and unwanted pregnancies seem to be hitting home. More and more teens are using contraception, mainly condoms, during intercourse, and teen pregnancy rates have not been increasing, even though sexual activity has.
What the findings indicate, said study director Jacqueline Darroch Forrest and other experts, is that efforts in the 1980s to discourage teens from sex have been ineffective.