Sex survey surprises

A wide-ranging and embarrassingly detailed survey of Americans’ sexual practices turned up some surprises.  Abstinence among young adults is significant and growing.  More than twice as many women than men have homosexual attraction and behavior.  And quite a few people with homosexual attraction have never had a same-sex experience.

Among the findings of a sweeping federal government survey of American sexual behavior is one that may surprise those bewailing a permissive and eros-soaked popular culture: More than one-quarter of people interviewed in their late teens and early 20s had never had sex.

The latest round of the quaintly named National Survey of Family Growth found that among 15-to-24-year-olds, 29 percent of females and 27 percent of males reported no sexual contact with another person ever – up from the 22 percent of both sexes when the survey was last conducted in 2002.

“The public’s general perception is that when it comes to young people and sex, the news is bad and likely to get worse,” said Bill Albert, chief program officer of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, an advocacy organization in Washington.

The seventh and latest round of the survey, first done in 1973, provides a corrective to that view.

“Many, many young people have been very receptive to the message of delaying sexual activity,” Albert said. “There’s no doubt about it.” He added that the nearly 40 percent reduction in teen pregnancy since the 1990s – which experts attribute to both increased condom use and increased abstinence – represents “extraordinary progress on a social issue that many once considered intractable.”

The uptick in abstinence is one of many revealing facts arising from structured interviews with a random sample of 13,495 Americans, ages 15 to 44, that were done from 2006 to 2008. The findings provide evidence for almost every theory and supposition about the nation’s secret sex life. . . .

Across the entire age span surveyed – 15 through 44 – 13 percent of women reported some “same-sex sexual behavior” in their lifetime, compared with 5 percent of men. For women, the fraction was up slightly from 2002, and for men, it was down slightly. . . .

There were small effects related to education. For example, 9 percent of women with bachelor’s degrees or higher reported same-sex encounters, compared with 15 percent of women who had not graduated from high school. On the other hand, 6 percent of male college graduates reported such encounters, compared with 3 percent of men who had not finished high school.

The survey also asked about sexual identity and orientation.

Among 18-to-44-year-olds who described themselves as heterosexual, 9 percent of women and 3 percent of men reported having same-sex encounters. On the other hand, 15 percent of women and 12 percent of men who described themselves as homosexual or bisexual had never had a same-sex experience.

via A sweeping survey of Americans’ sexual behavior.

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


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