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High School Students Report Regrets About Starting Sex Too Young

May 18, 1994 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Most sexually active teen-agers in a national poll say they lost their virginity too soon, but not because of pressure from their friends or dates.

Fifty-four percent of those who have had sex said they should have waited, the Roper poll found. The sexually active teens gave, on average, 17 as the ″best age″ to begin sexual intercourse, two years older than the average age they said they began.

Most said they started not because of pressure from friends (4 percent) or from the partner (6 percent) but because they wanted to (78 percent). Nine in 10 of all the teens in the poll denied they feel pressure from friends or dates to have sex, and 83 percent said they feel no pressure from TV or movies.

″Rolanda,″ a nationally syndicated talk show, commissioned the poll for a program today with help from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a New York-based interest group.

″One of the things this poll suggests is how confused young people are in America about sexuality,″ said Debra Haffner, the group’s executive director. ″I think there’s a lot of contradiction between their attitudes and what they’re doing.″

Telephone interviews with 503 students in grades nine through 12 were conducted last month by Roper Starch Worldwide. Results have a margin of sampling error of less than 5 percentage points.

Forty-one percent said they engaged in sex with penetration, and almost three-quarters of them said they did it in the homes of their parents or their partners’ parents. Six in 10 said they believe their parents know about their sexual behavior.

Eight in 10 of the sexually active said they use condoms all or most of the time, but the bad news for AIDS prevention is that 21 percent reported four or more partners and only 57 percent always use a condom.

The share of those who said they had intercourse, 36 percent, is much lower than the 54 percent in a 1990 survey by the Centers for Disease Control.

That could be good news for those worried about teen pregnancy and AIDS, but teen-agers called at home may be less willing to report sex than those who filled out the federal survey’s questionnaire, which went anonymously into a sealed envelope at school.

There was no difference in the average ages the high school students thought best for boys and girls to have their first sexual intercourse, and on average, both sexes started at the same age.

But while 71 percent of the girls said they were in love with their last sexual partner, only 45 percent of the boys said the same. Eighty-one percent of the sexually active boys vs. 59 percent of the sexually active girls said ″sex is a pleasurable experience.″


The report ″Teens Talk About Sex″ is available for $12 from SIECUS Publications, 130 W. 42nd St. Suite 2500, New York, N.Y. 10036.