Higher Incidences of ‘Casual’ and Oral Sex Among High School, College Students Surveys Show
Recent surveys conducted by social scientists at Bowling Green State University and the Kaiser Family Foundation have found an increase in "casual" sexual relationships among high school and college students, the Washington Post reports. In a federally funded survey conducted by Bowling Green researchers, 1,300 Toledo, Ohio-area 7th- to 11th-grade students were interviewed about dating, relationships and sexual activity. Among the students who had engaged in sexual intercourse -- ranging from 8% of 7th graders to 55% of 11th graders -- one-third indicated that they had had intercourse with "someone whose attachment went no further than friendship." That number "would have been higher if behaviors other than intercourse had been included," the Post reports. The Bowling Green researchers also found that female respondents were more confident than male respondents that they had control over their relationships; boys were more likely to say they would change themselves for a girl. Preliminary findings from a similar study soon to be released by Kaiser appear to back up those findings. According to that study, females ages 15 to 24 were less likely than males in the same age group to report having felt pressured to engage in sexual intercourse. Both studies also reported a significant shift in attitudes toward oral sex, noting that respondents believe it "is an acceptable alternative" to intercourse and is not the same thing as sex, according to the Post. While the proportion of high school girls engaging in intercourse has declined from 51% in 1991 to 43% in 2001, according to the CDC, the proportion of young adults who have engaged in oral sex has risen. Preliminary statistics from Kaiser say that one-third of 15- to 17-year-olds and two-thirds of 18- to 24-year-olds have engaged in oral sex. Health professionals are concerned that this increase in oral sex might be responsible for the recent rise in STD rates among teenagers, the Post reports (Stepp, Washington Post, 1/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.