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Sexuality in Adolescence


Much of the interest in adolescent sexual intercourse is driven by several of its serious consequences, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancy, and birth. The rate of sexual intercourse among teenagers varies a great deal between cultures. Even within the United States there is considerable variation according to age, socioeconomic status, geographic location, and race/ethnicity. Most of these differences can be attributed to a wide range of biological and social factors. Rates of sexual activity among teenagers leveled off in the United States during the 1990s, and teenage pregnancy declined, a fact that is partially attributable to less teenage sexual intercourse and an increase in the use of contraceptives among sexually active adolescents (Flanigan 2001). Adolescent sexuality is less often studied than sexual intercourse. As a result, the wide range of noncoital sexual activity that adolescents experience is less understood. Continued research can create a better understanding of sexual activity and the factors that influence it, and provide a scientific basis for policy to more effectively encourage responsible sexual behavior among adolescents.


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Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Health IssuesSexuality in Adolescence - Sexual Intercourse Patterns In The United States, Racial, National, And Ethnic Diversity, Relationships And Sexual Activity