Illinois: A government survey has revealed that American youth in the 21st century are just too busy for sex, and according to an Indian-origin health scientist, the decline in sex though small is significant.
The study carried out by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy showed that 27 per cent of young men and 29 per cent of young women reported no sexual contact is based on interviews of about 5300 young people, aged between 15 and 24.
Experts say this generation may be more cautious than their predecessors, more aware of sexually spread diseases. Or perhaps emphasis on abstinence in the past decade has had some influence, or maybe they’re just too busy.
Health scientist Anjani Chandra of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention declined to speculate on the reasons.
"It’s difficult to look for a trend earlier than 2002 because previous surveys did not gather as much detail about various types of sex, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted her, as saying.
However, data over the years on vaginal intercourse among never-married adolescents shows a steady decline since 1988. That seems to be in sync with other CDC studies showing an overall drop in teen pregnancy.
It shows the proportion in that age group who said they’d never had oral, vaginal or anal sex rose in the past decade from 22 per cent to about 28 per cent.
The findings may come as a surprise to most American parents who see skin and lust in the media and worry that sex is rampant.
"Many parents and adults look at teens and sex and see nothing but a blur of bare midriffs. They think things are terrible and getting worse," said Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
"It’s not even on my radar," the SMH quoted 17-year-old Illinois resident Abbey King, a competitive swimmer who starts her day at 5 a.m. and goes to bed at 10:30 p.m. after swimming, school, weight lifting, running, more swimming, homework and a volunteer gig working with service dogs for the disabled.
That the trend began in the late 1980s seems to undermine the idea that abstinence-only sex education — heavily emphasised during the 2001-2009 presidency of George W Bush — is the explanation, Albert said.
But it is possible those messages contributed, he added.
The leading influence on sexual activity among young adults is what parents teach and what peers are doing, experts said. And for whatever reason, smaller proportions are "doing it" than in the past.
"This generation (of Americans) is very focused on their future and not necessarily getting laid," agreed Washington, DC-based sex educator Yvonne Fulbright.
But she also suggested that some young men aren’t making time for relationships.
"Some guys, at the end of the day, they’d rather channel their energy into music, playing their guitar or playing computer games. That’s immediate gratification. People forget it takes work to woo somebody and keep her happy," she added.
The study also looked at looked at older adults, too. It was based on in-person interviews of about 13,500 men and women ages 15 to 44, conducted in the years 2006 through 2008. The results were compared with those of a similar survey done in 2002.
Among other findings:
* More than half of young people who had oral sex said they did that before vaginal intercourse; that pattern was much more common in whites than blacks or Hispanics.
* Among young adults, the proportion who had had vaginal or oral sex declined. But the proportion who had anal sex held steady, at about 21 per cent.
* For all ages in the study, women were more than twice as likely to have had sex with a same-gender partner than men were. That was true despite the fact that about the same proportion of male and female survey respondents described themselves as homosexual.