The paper describes the existing situation with the teenage sexuality in the United States, critically analyzes statistical data on the social-economic backgrounds, and adolescents access to information about the possible risks associated with the early start of sexual life. It puts an emphasis on the measures that should be taken with the aim of preventing the rate of abortion and the level of transmitted infections from the future increase. Today, more than ever, modern young people are subjected to continuous, relentless media pressure calling to start sexual life as soon as possible. Films, television, pop music, the Internet, computer disks, teen novels, and magazines all together form a wrong perception of the sexual relationships among youth. Nevertheless, at the same time, free access to the right information about the possible consequences of unprotected sex is restricted.
According to Conklin (n. p.), teenagers aged 10-19 years represent 15 percent of all population of the USA. Approximately one out of five American adolescents lives in poverty. It is a frightening fact that 39 percent of all sexual intercourses involving the U.S. high school students was without using contraceptives. Sexual intercourse before age 13 had 6 percent of all high school students. It should be emphasized “despite recent declines, birth rates to teens in the U.S. remain as much as eight times higher than in other developed countries” (Conklin n.p.).
The concern about the teenage sexuality should be correlated to the horrible statistics about the abortion rates. In 2008, among the U.S. teen females aged 15-19, the abortion rate accounted for 14.3 percent. This figure equals to more than 16 percent of all abortions. The following statistics on the HIV infections should raise the public concern on the teenage sexuality. In 2009, the increase in new HIV infections among the U.S. adolescents and young adults aged 13-29 accounted for 21 percent and amounted to 18,800 cases. The biggest figure of change was shown by Half Black/African American males, who were involved in the sexual intercourse with other males, and amounted to 48 percent in 2009. On the other hand, the Whites, Asians, and Hispanics/Latinos have their first sexual intercourse later than their Blacks counterparts do (Conklin n.p.).
Smith argues that the risk of sexually transmitted infections is increasing, taking into account that, among all the U.S. high school students, nearly 14 percent have had four or more partners already. According to the Kinsey Institute, “Approximately 25% of the 15 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections occur among teenagers” (n.p.). Parents and school representatives should emphasize to teenagers the danger of not protecting themselves during the sexual intercourses.
Level of the first sexual intercourse without contraceptives and the frequency of childbirth among teenagers from poor families are higher comparing to the affluent kids. On the one hand, it is related to poverty and inability to access high quality medical services, as well as other social services. In addition, it is connected with poor life expectations and ability to obtain a good education (Mosher, Chandra, & Jones n.p.).
Adults try to stay apart and remain in ignorance, whereas they feel uncomfortable when thinking about teenage sexuality. However, Conklin (n. p.) stated that 9 million teenagers have been involved in a sexual relationship today. Among all high school age students, almost half have had sexual intercourse already. This figure increases to 62 percent among high school seniors. In 2009, the statistical data on having at least one sexual intercourse pointed out that the Black and Hispanic males reported higher percent while the trend was vice versa among the White adolescents. Regarding the rate of contraceptives usage, Conklin states that in 2009, “60 percent of sexually active male high schoolers reported using condoms at last intercourse, as did 44 percent of sexually active female high schoolers” (n. p.). Moreover, the importance of informing teenagers, who have sexual intercourses with the same sex partners about the potential risks of unprotected sex, becomes more crucial. The percentage of condom use among groups of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals is lower than among heterosexual high school students, who use contraceptives in 66 percent of all sexual contacts.
Lewin (n. p.) argued that the trend of having sex earlier in teen years and not being informed fully on the potential risks is connected with the growth of pregnancy rates. The author pointed out, “the pregnancy rate among girls aged 15 to 19 increased 3 percent from 2005 to 2006” (Lewin n. p.). In 2006, the teenage pregnancy rate rose to 71.5 pregnancies for 1,000 women. Teenage pregnancy rates increased in all groups such as the Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites with the prevailing number of pregnant girls in the first two groups.
The teenage abortion rate also showed a negative tendency of 1 percent growth. Lewin underlined that federal financing for sex education among teenagers accounting for $150 million annually addressed the false direction of propaganda abstinence until marriage instead of giving young people information about the benefits of contraception (n. p.).
It should be mentioned that it is extremely important to adults, particularly parents, not to close their eyes on the existing situation, but to admit that such factors as families’ income level, their structure, and educational possibilities influence teen sexual behavior. Increased teenage sexuality should be the critical issue addressed not only by families, but also by public policy and school. With the aim to reduce the level of sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and abortion risks, propaganda of using contraceptives and easy access to them must be provided. Some opponents argue that such actions will only stimulate teen sex; however, the existing scale of abortion rates and epidemic of AIDS make such claims unsubstantiated.