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Teens Want to Wait for Sex

Two-thirds of U.S. teenagers who have had sexual relations wish they had waited longer, a new survey has found.

According to a December 17 Washington Times article the survey conducted for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy found that the number of people who wish they had delayed sexual activity rose 4 percent from three years ago. Of the 2,000 people polled, 67 percent said they wished they had waited. The new data also determined that 85 percent of teens believe sex should occur only in long-term committed relationships.

According to the article the findings were based on telephone surveys of 1,000 young people, ages twelve to nineteen, and 1,000 adults twenty years and older. It was conducted in August and September by International Communications Research, an independent research firm. The margin of error in the survey was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Campaign spokesman Bill Albert said there are two key findings from the survey.

"First," he said, "teens express more cautious attitudes and values toward sex than is perhaps generally believed."

The second big finding, Mr. Albert said, is that "parents continue to underestimate the influence they have" on whether their child becomes sexually active.

On the subject of delaying sex, the poll found that 77 percent of sexually experienced teen girls and 60 percent of sexually experienced teen boys reported they wished they had postponed sexual activity. They were not asked how long they wished they had waited.

In 2000, when asked the same question, 72 percent of girls and 55 percent of boys said they wished they had waited longer. The 2000 survey canvassed youngsters ages twelve to seventeen.

Other findings that suggest teens are more wary of early and casual sex include:

• Nearly three in ten teens (28 percent) say they have become more opposed in the past several years to teens having sex.

• Eighty-four percent of teens say pregnancy-prevention programs should teach young people to be married before they have a child.

• Eighty-eight percent of teens say it would be easier for teens to postpone sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents.

• Fifty-nine percent of teens say their parents are their role models of healthy, responsible relationships.

• Teens say parents (45 percent) influence their decisions about sex more than friends (31 percent) or others.

• Only a quarter of teens (26 percent) think it's embarrassing to admit being a virgin.

• Teens say their own morals, values, and religious beliefs — as well as concerns about their future — influence their decisions about sex far more than concerns about pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

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