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Summary: International Study Shows 22.7% 15-Year Olds Have Had Sexual Intercourse

An international study has shown that a substantial minority of 15-year olds have engaged in sexual intercourse.

  • In a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the results from a national longitudinal study of adolescent health were reported. According to this article, analyses of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in the United States on high school students in grades 9 through 12 show declining trends on those reporting ever having had sexual intercourse, and multiple partners. However, because of the physical, psychological, and societal costs of teen pregnancies and because most pregnancies in adolescents are due to contraceptive non-use or failure, it is important to understand the levels and modes and contraceptive use cross-nationally, which will enable an informed perspective on the sexual behaviors of young people. For this particular study, researchers aimed to identify and report cross-national patterns in contraceptive use among sexually active adolescents. Samples of 33,943 adolescents from 24 European and North American countries were surveyed for this study. Through this study, researchers found that a “substantial minority,” approximately 22.7%, of 15-year-olds have had sexual intercourse. In addition, 13.2% of the sexually active 15-year-olds surveyed reported that they used no form of contraception during their last sexual intercourse episode. The percentage of 15-year-olds who said they had sexual intercourse varied by country ranging from 14.1% in Croatia to 37.6% in England. Boys were shown to be more likely than girls to report having had sexual intercourse.1

1Contraceptive Use by 15-Year-Old Students at Their Last Sexual Intercourse, Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescents Medicine, Vol. 162, No. 1, January 2008, pp. 66-73.

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