The media continue to publish hysterical articles about the teen pregnancy and STD epidemics, despite the fact that teen pregnancy and STD rates are at their lowest levels ever. One reason for the decline may be the effectiveness of sexual education programs that teach teens how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and STDs by using condoms.
Teen condom use is certainly up. The 2011 National Survey of Family Growth, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), found that 80% of teen boys ages 15 to 19 reported using condoms the first time they had sex. This is a 9% increase over the last time the CDC checked in 2002 (See the Good.IS website) and a remarkable statistic when one considers how much older males complain about condoms.
The high rate of condom use by young males is either indicative of their concern for their own health and that of their partners or their partners’ unwillingness to fool around with them without protection--or both. In either case, it shows a level of responsibility, foresight and planning for which teens are seldom given credit.
The rate of teen sexual activity has not changed in the last 11 years, remaining at 40% for both genders, suggesting that sex education programs have not been increasing (nor decreasing) sexual activity. However, those who are abstaining, are not doing so because of abstinence only programs or state laws that require sex education classes to emphasize abstinence as the only 100% effective method.
Rather, the number one reason teens gave for remaining abstinent, according to the study, was that sex was "against their religion or morals," not fear of STDS or pregnancies, which they know perfectly well how to avoid.