The nation’s campaign to get more teenagers to delay sex and to use condoms is faltering, threatening to undermine the highly successful effort to reduce teen pregnancy and protect young people from sexually transmitted diseases.
New data from a large government survey show that by every measure, a decade-long decline in sexual activity among high school students leveled off between 2001 and 2007, and that the rise in condom use by teens flattened out in 2003.
Moreover, the survey found disturbing hints that teen sexual activity may have begun creeping up and that condom use among high school students might be edging downward, though those trend lines have not yet reached a point where statisticians can be sure, officials said.
“The bottom line is: In all these areas, we don’t seem to be making the progress we were making before,” said Howell Wechsler, acting director of the division of adolescent and school health at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducts the survey. “It’s very troubling.”
It also was predictable.