ABC News Poll: Sex Lives of American Teens

Similarly, among those with a current girl- or boyfriend, nearly nine in 10 have kissed romantically, six in 10 have done sexual touching, and a third have had both oral sex and intercourse -- all double or triple the rates among those with no boy- or girlfriend.

Teens with a boy- or girlfriend say they've been in the relationship for an average of seven months -- quite a long while, given their ages -- and three in 10 say it's been 10 months or more. The longer-term the relationship, the likelier there's sexual activity.

Sexual activity, as noted, also is much higher among teens who feel pressure to have sex and who feel pressure in other areas, who get their sexual information from friends rather than from adults, and whose sex ed classes or talks with parents haven't answered their questions about sex.

Sexual activity also is higher among teens who don't live with both their parents; it may be that supervision is more easily accomplished in traditional two-parent households.

RELIGION -- Religious observance plays a role as well: Teens who attend church weekly are half as likely to have had intercourse or oral sex as those who rarely go. (However, churchgoing teens are only moderately less likely to have engaged in romantic kissing or intimate touching.) Similarly, sexual activity is higher among the 14 percent of teens who say they have no religion.

In addition to providing a moral framework, religious belief and observance may be indicators of broader parental intervention. For example, teens who have a religion, and who attend church weekly, are more likely than their opposites to have discussed sex with a parent.

Religion is involved in attitudes as well as behaviors; those who have no religion, or rarely if ever attend church, are substantially more likely to say it's OK for teens to hook up sexually. Among teens who attend church weekly, 16 percent hold this view; among those who rarely if ever attend church, by contrast, 43 percent say it's OK to hook up; and among those with no religion, it's 49 percent.

Frequent churchgoing teens, and especially evangelical Protestant teens, also are more apt to say they're waiting to have sex, not that it just hasn't happened; and also more apt to say, specifically, that they're waiting until they're married.

WAITING -- Overall, among teens who haven't had intercourse, 53 percent say they're waiting, and 31 percent say they're waiting specifically until they're married. (The rest are waiting until they're older, or in a committed relationship.) Sixty-three percent of girls are waiting, compared with 43 percent of boys. Most boys, 56 percent, say instead that "it just hasn't happened yet."

Fifty-nine percent of teens say they have friends who've made a definite decision not to have intercourse before marriage, known as an "abstinence pledge." That rises to 75 percent of teens who themselves are waiting for marriage, a sign of reinforcing or peer-group behavior.

UNWANTED -- As mentioned, 12 percent of teens say they've done something sexual they didn't want to (13 percent of girls, but also 10 percent of boys). Among this group, 58 percent say they were carried away, 46 percent say they were too shy or embarrassed to say no, and 45 percent say they were talked into it. (Multiple answers were taken.)

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