Impact Feature Issue on Sexuality and People with Intellectual, Developmental and Other Disabilities

Teens and Sex Today

A June, 2010 report titled "Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing" provides a thought-provoking snapshot of some of the sexual attitudes and behaviors of teens. While the report, published by the National Center for Health Statistics, does not specifically discuss teens with disabilities, it does describe part of the social context in which all teens are growing up. Among the findings of the research conducted in 2006-08 were:

  • 42% of never-married females and 43% of never-married males aged 15-19 had engaged in sexual intercourse.
  • The most common first sexual partners were someone with whom they were "going steady." The second most common was someone they just met; this was more common for males.
  • The condom was reported as the most commonly used method of contraception among sexually experienced teen females; the second most common was withdrawal, and third was the pill.
  • Among both female and male teens who had not yet had sex, the most common reason for not yet having done so was that it was "against religion or morals." The second and third most common reasons were avoiding pregnancy (second for females, third for males), and waiting for the right person (second for males, third for females).
  • 58% of never-married females and 47% of never-married males reported they would be "very upset" if they got pregnant /got a partner pregnant, while 14% of females and 18% of males would be "a little pleased" or "very pleased" if they got (a partner) pregnant.