They’re Learning: Sexual Activity Among Black Teens On The Decline

July 25, 2012  |  

For once, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting some positive news on black teens and sexual activity. According to report author Laura Kann, there has been a “dramatic” decline in sexual activity among black teens and the number of those sexually active teens who are not using condoms.

Specifically, in the CDC’s overall report on teen sexual activity, the percentage of black teens who reported ever having sex fell from 82 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2011. The number with four or more sex partners also declined to 25 percent from 43 percent, and black teens also have a higher rate of condom use at 65 percent, compared to the overall average of 60 percent for teens across all races.

Though many see these results as confirmation of the effectiveness of safe-sex efforts in the black community, Kahn says the reason for the decline isn’t clear.

“This tells us what kids do, but not why,” she said.

Other generic findings, which come from about 15,000 students in grades 9 through 12 from both public and private schools who took the CDC’s annual National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, were:

  • The percentages of students who’ve had sex have remained fairly stable over the last 20 years for Hispanic students (49 percent in 2011) and whites (44 percent in 2011).
  • Overall, 47 percent of all teens surveyed said they’d ever had sex, down from 54 percent in 1991. The rate has barely changed since 2001.
  • About one-third of students said they’d had sex within the past three months, and 15 percent said they’d had sex with four or more partners.
  • The percentage of sexually active teens who use condoms grew from 46 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2011, although the number hasn’t changed much in recent years.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

What do you think accounts for the decrease in sexual activity among black teens?

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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