More bogus sex statistics about teens

Kevin DeYoung explodes some statistics going around about same sex relations among teenagers:

You may have seen this amazing news headline: 1 in 10 Teens Has Had a Same-Sex Partner. The story on AOL Health begins this way:  “Nearly one in ten teens has had a same-sex partner — double what previous research has shown, according to a surprising new study. The latest findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, reveal that 9.3 percent of teenagers say they have had at least one partner who is the same sex as they are. That’s about twice as many as indicated in a 2002 study of Massachusetts and Vermont teens showing 5 to 6 percent of teenagers had had same-sex partners. “. . . .

Wow! Who knew? 1 in 10 American teenagers has had a same-sex partner?! That’s really terrible/terrific depending on your point of view. What a revelation!The only problem with this revelation is that it’s false.

If the reporter for AOL had taken time to read just the abstract for the Pediatrics article she may have seen the heading “CONCLUSIONS” in all caps and noted this summary: Of sexually active adolescents, 9.3% reported a same-sex partner, a higher estimate than other published rates.AOL speaks of 1 in 10 teens; the original article concludes 9.3% of sexually active adolescents reported a same-sex partner. There’s a big difference. The survey analyzed data from 17,220 teenagers. Of those, 7,261 or 42% reported having had sex. So according this study 58% of teens are not having sex with anyone and 9.3% of those who have, had same-sex partners, or 3.9% of the total sample.

There are other reasons to be suspicious of the headline. For starters, as AOL reports later in the article: “The new research analyzed data from 17,220 teenagers in New York City who filled out public health surveys” emphasis mine. The whole Pediatric article is not available online so I can’t comment on the ins and outs of the methodology. But I have to believe that a study dealing with “teens in New York City who fill out public health surveys” is going to yield some different results than, say, teens in Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls.

via Is It True That “1 in 10 Teens Has Had a Same-Sex Partner”? – Kevin DeYoung.

HT:  Joe Carter

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • WebMonk

    What?!? You mean to tell me that reporters got something wrong when reporting on a scientific study?!?!

    I am shocked! Shocked I tell you!

  • WebMonk

    What?!? You mean to tell me that reporters got something wrong when reporting on a scientific study?!?!

    I am shocked! Shocked I tell you!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    There was another “shocking” study in the paper this morning correlating oral sex to regular intercourse. As if anyone should be surprised that people do what comes naturally when they’re alone and their clothes are off.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    There was another “shocking” study in the paper this morning correlating oral sex to regular intercourse. As if anyone should be surprised that people do what comes naturally when they’re alone and their clothes are off.

  • rlewer

    Nevertheless, the false 9.3% will continue to be rounded up to 10% and quoted as fact. Watch and see.

  • rlewer

    Nevertheless, the false 9.3% will continue to be rounded up to 10% and quoted as fact. Watch and see.

  • nqb

    I don’t know if the original article has just been updated and corrected, but the headline is now “1 in 10 Sexually Active Teens Has Had a Same-Sex Partner”. The first sentence correctly reads, “Nearly one in ten teens who is sexually active has had a same-sex partner — double what previous research has shown, according to a surprising new study.”

    @WebMonk- I take it you are actually more surprised now that a reporter (or editor) got something right?

    @Bubba- What do you mean “correlating”? Could you link to the article or explain a little bit more?

  • nqb

    I don’t know if the original article has just been updated and corrected, but the headline is now “1 in 10 Sexually Active Teens Has Had a Same-Sex Partner”. The first sentence correctly reads, “Nearly one in ten teens who is sexually active has had a same-sex partner — double what previous research has shown, according to a surprising new study.”

    @WebMonk- I take it you are actually more surprised now that a reporter (or editor) got something right?

    @Bubba- What do you mean “correlating”? Could you link to the article or explain a little bit more?

  • nqb

    I realized I could also offer a link to the original article.
    The html address seems to hint that they did, in fact, have it wrong at one point.

  • nqb

    I realized I could also offer a link to the original article.
    The html address seems to hint that they did, in fact, have it wrong at one point.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba
  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba
  • Porcell

    Essentially media outfits like AOL have bought into the propaganda that militant homosexual groups ubiquitously promote.
    Even the American Psychiatric Association caved to this pressure back in 1973 when it was forced for political, not scientific, reasons to remove homosexuality from its list of psychological disorders.

    The militant “gays” have, also, largely succeeded in their campaign to regard opponents of homosexual behavior and marriage as homophobic.

    This would be another example of regarding those who make reasonable and principled stands against the ideology of secularists as “extremists, while the secularists themselves are beyond criticism.”
    Note, however, that three Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of homosexual marriage were voted out of office. The people have figured out this issue.

  • Porcell

    Essentially media outfits like AOL have bought into the propaganda that militant homosexual groups ubiquitously promote.
    Even the American Psychiatric Association caved to this pressure back in 1973 when it was forced for political, not scientific, reasons to remove homosexuality from its list of psychological disorders.

    The militant “gays” have, also, largely succeeded in their campaign to regard opponents of homosexual behavior and marriage as homophobic.

    This would be another example of regarding those who make reasonable and principled stands against the ideology of secularists as “extremists, while the secularists themselves are beyond criticism.”
    Note, however, that three Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of homosexual marriage were voted out of office. The people have figured out this issue.

  • WebMonk

    @4. My lack of surprise at the original error is extreme. Not even close to being offset by my mild surprise that the error was fixed. :-)

  • WebMonk

    @4. My lack of surprise at the original error is extreme. Not even close to being offset by my mild surprise that the error was fixed. :-)

  • WebMonk

    “The people have figured out this issue.”

    Porcell, you are so amazingly optimistic! I give it about 15 years before homosexual marriage is given the same status as hetero marriage.

  • WebMonk

    “The people have figured out this issue.”

    Porcell, you are so amazingly optimistic! I give it about 15 years before homosexual marriage is given the same status as hetero marriage.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Here’s a link to the study.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Here’s a link to the study.

  • nqb

    @Bubba and @bunny- Thanks for the links.
    What I find really bizarre about the AOL article is the unexplained scientific schizophrenia within the whole thing.
    The study claims to show that those who engage in same-sex encounters are at higher risk for both disease and sexual violence, yet according to Dr. Daniel Carlat, “AOL Health’s mental health expert”:

    “I don’t see [same-sex encounters] as being dangerous though. I don’t think we’re seeing young people being drawn to sexual contact that they’d be otherwise unwilling to do. … It’s normal for teens to have same-sex encounters as they grow up.”

    That just seems like a crazy statement to make with no explanation. Or a crazy time not to print the explanation he possibly went on to give.

  • nqb

    @Bubba and @bunny- Thanks for the links.
    What I find really bizarre about the AOL article is the unexplained scientific schizophrenia within the whole thing.
    The study claims to show that those who engage in same-sex encounters are at higher risk for both disease and sexual violence, yet according to Dr. Daniel Carlat, “AOL Health’s mental health expert”:

    “I don’t see [same-sex encounters] as being dangerous though. I don’t think we’re seeing young people being drawn to sexual contact that they’d be otherwise unwilling to do. … It’s normal for teens to have same-sex encounters as they grow up.”

    That just seems like a crazy statement to make with no explanation. Or a crazy time not to print the explanation he possibly went on to give.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    While I’m glad to see someone paying close attention (and while I share WebMonk’s complete and utter shock that a journalist — especially an AOLHealth.com journalist! — would get a detail like that wrong), I have to wonder what Mr. DeYoung meant when he wrote:

    I have to believe that a study dealing with “teens in New York City who fill out public health surveys” is going to yield some different results than, say, teens in Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls.

    Different how? Is this just a shot at New York City, Den of Iniquity and Bane to all Good People?

    To be sure, sexual activity does differ from place to place. But if we use teen pregnancy rates (note: not childbirth, pregnancy) as a stand-in for sexual activity (certainly the former requires the latter), then we see that Georgia has a similar, if slightly higher, pregnancy rate than New York state (80 per 1000 women aged 15-19, compared with New York’s 77). And Texas has even more teen pregnancies, with 88 per 1000. South Dakota has far less, with 51.

    So, indeed, these numbers are all different. But they are not different from New York in the same way. I wonder what Mr. DeYoung meant.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    While I’m glad to see someone paying close attention (and while I share WebMonk’s complete and utter shock that a journalist — especially an AOLHealth.com journalist! — would get a detail like that wrong), I have to wonder what Mr. DeYoung meant when he wrote:

    I have to believe that a study dealing with “teens in New York City who fill out public health surveys” is going to yield some different results than, say, teens in Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls.

    Different how? Is this just a shot at New York City, Den of Iniquity and Bane to all Good People?

    To be sure, sexual activity does differ from place to place. But if we use teen pregnancy rates (note: not childbirth, pregnancy) as a stand-in for sexual activity (certainly the former requires the latter), then we see that Georgia has a similar, if slightly higher, pregnancy rate than New York state (80 per 1000 women aged 15-19, compared with New York’s 77). And Texas has even more teen pregnancies, with 88 per 1000. South Dakota has far less, with 51.

    So, indeed, these numbers are all different. But they are not different from New York in the same way. I wonder what Mr. DeYoung meant.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Actually it makes sense. Those with same sex partners tend to have more partners which seems to indicate more interest in sex. So, that the 42% who were having sex at all would disproportionally include those with the most interest sounds about right.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Actually it makes sense. Those with same sex partners tend to have more partners which seems to indicate more interest in sex. So, that the 42% who were having sex at all would disproportionally include those with the most interest sounds about right.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD

    I have to believe that a study dealing with “teens in New York City who fill out public health surveys” is going to yield some different results than, say, teens in Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls.

    @tODD

    I have to believe that a study dealing with “teens in New York City who fill out public health surveys” is going to yield some different results than, say, teens in Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls.

    He’s trying to play down the conclusion of the study which shows that the percentage of sexually active teens engaging in same sex encounters has increased compared to previous studies ~ like this one which surveyed teens from Minnesota (table 42a)in 2001.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD

    I have to believe that a study dealing with “teens in New York City who fill out public health surveys” is going to yield some different results than, say, teens in Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls.

    @tODD

    I have to believe that a study dealing with “teens in New York City who fill out public health surveys” is going to yield some different results than, say, teens in Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls.

    He’s trying to play down the conclusion of the study which shows that the percentage of sexually active teens engaging in same sex encounters has increased compared to previous studies ~ like this one which surveyed teens from Minnesota (table 42a)in 2001.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@14), the study itself concludes not an “increase”, but rather “a higher estimate than other published rates”. There is a difference.

    And I don’t know why you linked me to the Minnesota study, but I don’t think a study of students in  residential behavioral treatment facilities would be expected to compare to the population at large.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@14), the study itself concludes not an “increase”, but rather “a higher estimate than other published rates”. There is a difference.

    And I don’t know why you linked me to the Minnesota study, but I don’t think a study of students in  residential behavioral treatment facilities would be expected to compare to the population at large.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD
    Oh? Then what’s the difference?
    I used the Minnesota study as and example of previous studies which this one is being compared to. The Aol article references Massachusetts and Vermont while this
    news outlet compares it the local survey I posted above.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD
    Oh? Then what’s the difference?
    I used the Minnesota study as and example of previous studies which this one is being compared to. The Aol article references Massachusetts and Vermont while this
    news outlet compares it the local survey I posted above.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Then what’s the difference?” (@16). Well, one considers an age group in general, and another considers only the portion of that group that has engaged in certain behaviors — as I understand it, typically involving alcohol and drug abuse. Do you think that drug and alcohol use have no impact on sexual activity?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “Then what’s the difference?” (@16). Well, one considers an age group in general, and another considers only the portion of that group that has engaged in certain behaviors — as I understand it, typically involving alcohol and drug abuse. Do you think that drug and alcohol use have no impact on sexual activity?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD#17
    The distinction between “increase” and “a higher estimate than other published rates” does not, imho, constitute a difference. And, indeed, “increase” is how the results of this study are being interpreted. And as far as the Minnesota study not being a fair comparison I suppose one could similarly rule out each of the other studies as well.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD#17
    The distinction between “increase” and “a higher estimate than other published rates” does not, imho, constitute a difference. And, indeed, “increase” is how the results of this study are being interpreted. And as far as the Minnesota study not being a fair comparison I suppose one could similarly rule out each of the other studies as well.

  • WebMonk

    “And, indeed, “increase” is how the results of this study are being interpreted.”

    Yes, and we know how wonderful news sources are at properly treating science studies. :-D

    “increase” means that the behavior is actually becoming more common.

    “higher estimate than before” means that the behavior is the same as always but we’re seeing more of it because we’re looking in a different way.

  • WebMonk

    “And, indeed, “increase” is how the results of this study are being interpreted.”

    Yes, and we know how wonderful news sources are at properly treating science studies. :-D

    “increase” means that the behavior is actually becoming more common.

    “higher estimate than before” means that the behavior is the same as always but we’re seeing more of it because we’re looking in a different way.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@19), right. The only way anyone could conclude there was an increase in the behavior would be if there were studies of the same group over a period of time. But Bunnycatch3r does not point us to those, but rather, invites us to compare disparate groups (sometimes in significant ways) over a period of time.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    WebMonk (@19), right. The only way anyone could conclude there was an increase in the behavior would be if there were studies of the same group over a period of time. But Bunnycatch3r does not point us to those, but rather, invites us to compare disparate groups (sometimes in significant ways) over a period of time.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Webmonk
    Thanks for the insight. So study is concludes that the behavior is more prevalent than previously estimated?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Webmonk
    Thanks for the insight. So study is concludes that the behavior is more prevalent than previously estimated?

  • bunnycatch3r

    But Bunnycatch3r does not point us to those, but rather, invites us to compare disparate groups (sometimes in significant ways) over a period of time.

    .

    fie on bunny! Fie!
    The study refers to “other published rates”. I merely made note of two that were listed in the Aol article and one that was referenced elsewhere. But I had no idea that you had analyzed these other studies and concluded that the data set was “significantly” disparate.

  • bunnycatch3r

    But Bunnycatch3r does not point us to those, but rather, invites us to compare disparate groups (sometimes in significant ways) over a period of time.

    .

    fie on bunny! Fie!
    The study refers to “other published rates”. I merely made note of two that were listed in the Aol article and one that was referenced elsewhere. But I had no idea that you had analyzed these other studies and concluded that the data set was “significantly” disparate.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@22), you can’t look at the data for same-sex encounters among sexually active teens with substance abuse problems in Minnesota in 2001, compare it to the data for same-sex encounters among sexually active teens in New York City (substance abuse issues or not) from 2005–7, and then tell me that the percentage of sexually active teens engaging in same sex encounters has increased. You’re comparing different populations. How many sexually active teens in NYC had same-sex encounters in 2001? How many sexually active teens with substance abuse problems in Minnesota had same-sex encounters from 2005–7? No one here seems to know. Those would be helpful.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@22), you can’t look at the data for same-sex encounters among sexually active teens with substance abuse problems in Minnesota in 2001, compare it to the data for same-sex encounters among sexually active teens in New York City (substance abuse issues or not) from 2005–7, and then tell me that the percentage of sexually active teens engaging in same sex encounters has increased. You’re comparing different populations. How many sexually active teens in NYC had same-sex encounters in 2001? How many sexually active teens with substance abuse problems in Minnesota had same-sex encounters from 2005–7? No one here seems to know. Those would be helpful.

  • bunnycatch3r

    tODD
    I understand your bias against the Minnesota report but what of the others? @14 I stated that Kevin DeYoung is attempting to down play the results of “other published rates” and you’ve attempted to refute me by lumping all of these other studies under this one.

  • bunnycatch3r

    tODD
    I understand your bias against the Minnesota report but what of the others? @14 I stated that Kevin DeYoung is attempting to down play the results of “other published rates” and you’ve attempted to refute me by lumping all of these other studies under this one.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@24), I’m not “biased” against the Minnesota report. It says what it says. What I have continued to argue is that you can’t compare its data directly with the NYC data and draw simple conclusions. You want to be able to say something about how same-sex encounters have increased, but you keep comparing studies of disparate populations over time.

    Are you interested in finding out the actual trends, or do you just want to find the data that make the conclusion you want to hear?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@24), I’m not “biased” against the Minnesota report. It says what it says. What I have continued to argue is that you can’t compare its data directly with the NYC data and draw simple conclusions. You want to be able to say something about how same-sex encounters have increased, but you keep comparing studies of disparate populations over time.

    Are you interested in finding out the actual trends, or do you just want to find the data that make the conclusion you want to hear?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD
    My goal is to point out that this study indicates that sexually active teens are engaged in same sex activities at “a higher estimate than other published rates”. And that Kevin DeYoung tries to down play this conclusion by positing that New York teens “who fill out public health surveys” are (for some unknown reason ) different than teens elsewhere. I listed three states (other than New York) where (according to news sources including Aol) similar studies were conducted. I predict that you will read this and respond with something on the order of …but, the kids in Minnesota did drugs!

  • bunnycatch3r

    @tODD
    My goal is to point out that this study indicates that sexually active teens are engaged in same sex activities at “a higher estimate than other published rates”. And that Kevin DeYoung tries to down play this conclusion by positing that New York teens “who fill out public health surveys” are (for some unknown reason ) different than teens elsewhere. I listed three states (other than New York) where (according to news sources including Aol) similar studies were conducted. I predict that you will read this and respond with something on the order of …but, the kids in Minnesota did drugs!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@26), you’re really missing the point. Go back and read WebMonk’s comment (@19). I don’t really feel like explaining this anymore. Have a nice weekend.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bunnycatch3r (@26), you’re really missing the point. Go back and read WebMonk’s comment (@19). I don’t really feel like explaining this anymore. Have a nice weekend.

  • bunnycatch3r

    I accept Webmonk’s explanation. And therefore, I am not arguing for an “increase” in behavior. It was incorrect of me to use that word. Point taken.
    I really don’t think we have any disagreement whatsoever.
    But if I am still in error then ~all the best, enjoy your weekend.

  • bunnycatch3r

    I accept Webmonk’s explanation. And therefore, I am not arguing for an “increase” in behavior. It was incorrect of me to use that word. Point taken.
    I really don’t think we have any disagreement whatsoever.
    But if I am still in error then ~all the best, enjoy your weekend.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    For what it’s worth, Bunnycatch3r (@26), my suspicion is that Mr. DeYoung mentioned “Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls” not in order to downplay any apparent trends in same-sex activity as such, but rather because those places tend to be culturally (or perhaps theologically) “conservative”, and things wouldn’t seem so bad if we weren’t looking at the Big Bad City Where Bad People Live.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    For what it’s worth, Bunnycatch3r (@26), my suspicion is that Mr. DeYoung mentioned “Dallas or Atlanta or Sioux Falls” not in order to downplay any apparent trends in same-sex activity as such, but rather because those places tend to be culturally (or perhaps theologically) “conservative”, and things wouldn’t seem so bad if we weren’t looking at the Big Bad City Where Bad People Live.

  • Digital

    I never ceases to amaze me, even the ‘highly educated’ liberal media cant do simple math…
    Of course I have seen stats spun the other way by conservatives.
    This has led to the often mention “Causation is not correlation” and “Statistics are relative”. But very few seem to take this to heart, choosing rather to read into things what they want to. Which causes me to often respond with “Citation Needed”…which stops most conversations dead in polite society :)

  • Digital

    I never ceases to amaze me, even the ‘highly educated’ liberal media cant do simple math…
    Of course I have seen stats spun the other way by conservatives.
    This has led to the often mention “Causation is not correlation” and “Statistics are relative”. But very few seem to take this to heart, choosing rather to read into things what they want to. Which causes me to often respond with “Citation Needed”…which stops most conversations dead in polite society :)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    You got that right, Digital.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    You got that right, Digital.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Todd and Bunny, my impression was that he thought NYC teens would be more likely to divulge the info, of course, I don’t that. Anyway, folks surveying sexual activity note that men always report more sex partners than women, so it is often assumed that the respondents are fudging a little. So, when I saw that comment referring to teens in NYC vs. the other locales, I assumed he meant that the NYC teens would be more forthcoming. As I say, I don’t know. It is just my impression.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Todd and Bunny, my impression was that he thought NYC teens would be more likely to divulge the info, of course, I don’t that. Anyway, folks surveying sexual activity note that men always report more sex partners than women, so it is often assumed that the respondents are fudging a little. So, when I saw that comment referring to teens in NYC vs. the other locales, I assumed he meant that the NYC teens would be more forthcoming. As I say, I don’t know. It is just my impression.


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