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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Teen Sexuality: It's Not Your Grandmother's Sex Life!

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Lucy ODonnell
Lucy ODonnell
Lucy O’Donnell is the Executive Director of the Delaware Adolescent Program, Inc., a statewide school for pregnant and parenting teens. She has over 30 years of experience in the Delaware non-profit sector with a concentration on education. Ms. O’Donnell currently serves on the Delaware Teen Pregnancy Advisory Board, the Association of Fundraising Professionals board and the Huntington Disease Society board as well as numerous state committees.

Recently-released statistics show that the birth rate for teenagers fell 9% to 34.3 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in 2010 – the lowest level ever reported for the United States, according to Births: Preliminary Data for 2010.

Sounds like good news, right? This 9% decrease from 2009 is the largest single-year decrease since 1946-47. In fact, the rate has dropped more than 40% since 1991 when U.S. teen birth rates began a long-term decline.

BUT the U.S. still has the highest teen birth rates in the industrialized world!

And here in Delaware, while our rates have dropped by 17% since 2000, we still have cause for concern. Sexual activity, with all its associated risks, is rampant among Delaware teens. Youth Risk Behavior (YRB) data shows:

  • Nearly one in 5 middle school students has had sexual intercourse.
  • Three out of 4 high school seniors have had sex.
  • Two-thirds of 11th graders and one-third of 9th graders have given or received oral sex.
  • Delaware is second in the nation for teens reporting more than four sexual partners before the age of 13.

(On a positive note: Three out of 4 middle school kids who are sexually activity report that they’re using condoms.)

Not surprisingly, there’s also a correlation between early sexual activity and other behaviors, including experimentation with drugs and alcohol and violence.

What’s the message? Decreasing teen birth rates don’t mean we can afford to bury our heads in the sand. The underlying risk behaviors associated with getting pregnant are staggering.

Those who believe sex education is not an absolute necessity need only to look at these statistics. And, if you think these represent lower socio-economic groups or minorities only, think again. The YRB survey is given to EVERY public school student in Delaware.

We’ve learned that we have a problem: Our kids are what previous generations would consider promiscuous! We can ignore it and hope it goes away or we can acknowledge it and work to solve it.

You may know the Delaware Adolescent Program, Inc. as a resource for pregnant and parenting teens. We provide a standards-based education focused on helping teens graduate, along with outreach, mentoring and support services.

But we also focus on empowering pregnant and parenting teens to make good choices and prevent repeat teen births, as well as the sexually transmitted diseases associated with sexual activity. In short, unmanaged sexual activity can have deadly consequences.  And even when our children avoid the potentially fatal consequences of HIV/AIDS or risky pregnancies and births, a baby is a lifelong commitment that impacts their education, career and economic choices.

We’d welcome your help in continuing to educate and empower Delaware youth to prevent pregnancy and risky behaviors. Visit us at www.dapi.org to learn more.


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Latest News

State pleads for patience as it tries to get vaccine into as many arms as possible

  With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decreasing and vaccinations increasing, Delaware now faces the crisis of not having enough vaccinations...

Republican react to Carney’s State of the State: Where’s the beef, John?

The lawmakers said they wanted Carney to issue an action plan for coping with state woes, and they didn't hear it.

Carney’s State of the State: We’re going to keep on keeping on

Among other things, the governor said he wants governments to keep livestream meetings to give the public greater access.
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