Fewer Teens Having Sex

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A new study out shows fewer teens are having sex and more are using condoms.

Matthew Sheffield just finished his first year of college. He'll celebrate his 19th birthday in a few days. Matthew has managed to spend his teenage years without having sex.

"I guess the motivation behind it isn't really having sex, but it's more of being pure," Sheffield explained.

Matthew joins an ever-growing number of teenagers, choosing to not be sexually active.

"There's so much that could go wrong, so many adverse problems that can come out of it that outweigh the pleasure of that one moment," 17-year-old Jacob Stevens said.

A new study shows the number of teens having sex between 1991 and 2005 dropped seven percent.

"I think abstaining is something that kids have looked at now and seen the benefits of," Sheffield said. Of those that are engaging in sexual activity, nearly 70 percent of them, or six million teens, use protection.

"There's even commercials on television now that talk about contraceptives. Several years ago it was just not talked about," said Lisa Houchin, health educator with the Barren River District Health Department.

Matthew and Jacob credit a strong religious faith and a supportive group of friends as helping them in their decision. Some say better sex education in schools has contributed to the drop in the number of sexually active teens.

"Sex ed in school is always awkward and funny, but it does teach a lot and it forces kids to talk about things with adults that they normally wouldn't," Sheffield said.

The Barren River District Health Department maintains that one-on-one honest conversations with parents often discourage teenagers from having sex too soon. Others say it's about resisting peer pressure and learning from other's mistakes. They may be smiling and getting high-fives, but nine times out of ten there's more on the inside than what meets the eye," Stevens said.

Our local statistics correlate with the national study. The Barren River Health Department said we have seen a drop in pregnancies among teenage girls since 1994.

To view area pregnancy statistics from BRADD, be sure to click here. And to find more information on teen pregnancy rates in Kentucky, go to www.teenpregnancy.org.