Teenagers in the United States are experimenting with sexual activities more and more today than ever before. According to Charles Krauthammer, "Sex oozes from every pore of the culture and there's not a kid in the world who can avoid it." (Meier, 1994, p. 7). Teenagers are surrounded by some sort of sexual connotations all the time. Whether it is television, radio, school, or even the Internet, teenagers are hearing the affects of sex on our society. The price that teenagers pay for being sexually active greatly outweighs any advantages. The period of puberty occurs somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14 for most but can vary for different people. Heredity, health problems, and emotional and physical stress can cause these variations. Teens begin to experiment with the opposite sex by hugging, kissing and other forms of sexual expression. People are capable of creating babies as soon as puberty begins. Teens also watch more television and listen to more music developing their own unique personalities. According to one study, about 65,000 sexual acts or comments on prime-time television occur every year (Meier, 1994, p. 9). In the movies or on television, the actors and actresses make sex look easy, fun and glamorous. It appears to be something everyone is doing. On television shows like "Dawson's Creek", sex is usually the major topic of the entire show. Whether it is guys and girls, guys and guys, girls and girls, or multiple persons of each sex, the sex act itself is a major conflict. Movies, such as "Cruel Intentions", portray sex as a game. The main characters are placing bets on each other that one of them will have sex with some girl who is against the idea of premarital sex. That movie is rated R, but little kids were in there with their parents. Those types of movies are not meant for a young audience. Now those kids might end up having sex when they become teenagers. Those same teenagers might often be the ones that get pregnant. Teenage pregnancy happens so often that people hardly even recognize it anymore as a negative affect on our society. Experts estimate that the combination of lost tax revenues and increased spending on public assistance, child health care, foster care and the criminal justice system totals about $7 billion annually for births in teens. Despite a 20-year low in the teen pregnancy rate and an impressive decline in the teen birth rate, the United States still has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized country (Casey Foundation, 1996). That's not saying a whole lot for our nation. In Kids Having Kids: A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing, researchers note, "During her first 12 years of parenthood, the average adolescent mother receives income and food stamps valued at just over $17,000 annually
" Recent declines in pregnancy and birth rates, however, are encouraging. The rates keep dropping and are showing no signs of increase, yet. The rate of pregnancies has dropped from a peak of 117 for every 1,000 young women ages 15 to 19 in 1990, to 101 in 1995. That 14 percent drop brought the rate to its lowest level since 1975 (Casey Foundation, 1996). Rather than deal with a pregnancy after the fact, more teenagers seem to be trying to prevent pregnancies. Teenagers are learning to better use contraceptives and are using them more frequently than before. Some teenagers are aware of the contraceptives available, but they just choose not to use them. Others may find it difficult and embarrassing to talk to their partners about birth control or contraceptives. Contraceptives such as the condom, Depo-Provera, diaphragm, IUD (intrauterine device), and the pill are effective more than 80% of the time. Some of those, more than 90%. Nine in 10 sexually active women and their partners use a contraceptive method, although not always consistently or correctly. About one in six teenage women practicing contraception combine two methods,...
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