written by : MI Science Department Staff and approved by Dr. Freda Bush
In January of 2014, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy initiated a survey of young adults to assess attitudes and opinions regarding virginity and sexual experiences. The survey was conducted on-line with over 1,000 high school graduates, ages 18 – 24.
1. Young adults’ attitude toward virginity is a positive one.
- Less than one percent of young adults say they think less of someone their age who has not had sex.
- Forty-six percent of young adults say they “feel respect” for other young adults who have not had sex.
- Eighty-six percent say it’s important for young teens to know that “it’s okay to be a virgin when you graduate from high school.”
- Over half (55%)of 15 – 19 year olds who have had sex wish they had waited longer
2. Young adult virgins are comfortable with their virginity:
- 60% say that all or almost all of their friends know that they are virgins.
- 93% of young adult virgins say that they have never lied about their virginity.
- 90% say they intend to wait until the time is right for them to have sex.
3. Young women reported being pressured not to have sex in high school.
- 66% state they felt parental pressure to remain a virgin in high school.
- 55% reported religious pressure to refrain from sex.
- 57% reported that pressure to remain a virgin came from within themselves.
4. Young people feel pressured to become sexually active in high school.
- Young adults list “Media” as the main source of pressure to be become sexually active.
- 50% of young people who had sex at age 17 or younger, state that they felt pressure to become sexually active because of other people’s rumored sexual activity.
- 42% of females said they felt pressure to have sex in high school from a romantic partner.
5. Most young adults are unhappy with how the media portrays sex, love and relationships.
- 86% would like media to present relationships of young adults in a more realistic way.
- 89% say that the media makes it seem like people who are having sex are “cooler” than those who are not.
- 86% wish media would portray virginity in a more realistic way.
- Most young adults (85%) believe that pornography causes people to have “unrealistic expectations” about sex.
6. Most young adults place a higher value on romance and relationships than they do on sex alone.
- 72% say they could be happy in a romantic relationship that did not include sexual intercourse.
- 65% of women and 51% of men ages 18 – 24 say that their first sexual experience was with a serious romantic partner.
- Even 62% of sexually active young adults say they could be happy in a relationship without sex.
- 78% preferred a sexless serious romantic relationship to sex without a serious romantic relationship.
One of the most important findings of the survey is the indication that age at first intercourse is an important factor in the overall sexual experience.
“The younger people are when they have sex for the first time, the more likely they are to experience sadness and feelings of regret about it – both at the time and long after the fact.”
Again, these are the thoughts and opinions and the voices of young adults in America. How refreshing it would be to see these same values expressed in the media today.
Kramer, Amy, “Virgin Territory: What Young Adults Say About Sex, Love, Relationships, and The First Time,” The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, IYSL It’s Your (Sex) Life.com.http://thenationalcampaign.org/resource/virgin-territory, retrieved 12/22,2014.