New CDC Stats on Teenage Sexual Activity Show Parallel to True Love Waits Movement

Richard Ross sees something quite interesting about new data that sexual activity declined significantly for girls ages 15-17 and boys ages 15-18 between 1995 and 2002.

Ross, one of the founders of the True Love Waits (TLW) abstinence movement, noted: "The first TLW promises were made by one youth group in 1993" — promises made by teenagers in church settings to refrain from premarital sexual relations.

"In 1994, teenagers displayed over 110,000 promises of purity on the National Mall," Ross continued. "In 1995, teenage promises were becoming behavior. In addition, the national attention on TLW in 1995 was fueling the establishment of scores of abstinence organizations. Soon after came government support for those organizations.

"In many ways, the history of the decline in teenage sexual activity is the history of True Love Waits," Ross noted, commenting that, "It is especially helpful that the new CDC study analyzes the years from 1995 to 2002."

Ross is professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a former staff member at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, which spearheads the True Love Waits movement.

The new data, reported by the Centers for Disease Control's national statistics office, compares new findings from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth with the previous survey conducted in 1995.

The proportion of never-married females 15-17 years of age who had had sexual intercourse dropped significantly from 38 percent in 1995 to 30 percent in 2002.

For male teens, the percent of those who were sexually experienced dropped significantly in both age groups: from 43 percent to 31 percent at age 15-17, and from 75 percent to 64 percent at age 18-19.

The only statistic remaining stagnant is that 68 percent of females 18-19 years of age had had intercourse in 1995 compared with 69 percent in 2002.

"There is much good news in these results," said Tommy G. Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a CDC news release. "More teenagers are avoiding or postponing sexual activity, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, or emotional and societal responsibilities for which they are not prepared."

The federal survey also found that the most common reason among teens for delaying sexual relations is because it is "against [their] religion or moral values," which was picked by 37.8 percent of girls and 31.4 percent of boys. Pledges to refrain from sex until marriage were reported by 13 percent of girls and 11 percent of boys.

The National Survey of Family Growth is conducted periodically by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics to collect data on factors which influence the American family including marriage, divorce, and cohabitation; contraception; infertility; pregnancy outcomes and births. The survey involves household interviews with a nationally representative sample of women (since 1982) and men (beginning in 2002) ages 15-44.

True Love Waits celebrated its 10th anniversary in Athens during the Summer Olympics. More than 3 million American youth have made sexual purity commitments since TLW's founding.

For more information on True Love Waits, go to www.truelovewaits.com.

Compiled by Art Toalston.

    About the Author

  • SBC Staff