ABC News Poll: Sex Lives of American Teens

About a third say it was because they wanted their partner to like them; a quarter, because other teens are doing it; a quarter because they were forced, and 14 percent because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

It adds perspective to compute these numbers against the entire teen population, rather than just among those who did something sexually they didn't really want to. Among all teens, 3 percent say they've been forced to do something sexual they didn't want to do; and 2 percent say they had sexual activity they didn't want to when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

STDS and PREGNANCY -- There are some knowledge gaps among teens, although the majority has gotten two key messages. Eighty percent are aware that it's possible to get a sexually transmitted disease via oral sex. And 63 percent are aware that using a condom is an effective way of preventing HIV; however, 32 percent believe this is not the case. (Awareness of condom use is higher, 83 percent, among teens who've had sex.)

A quarter of teens, and a third of older teens, personally know someone who has a sexually transmitted disease; and more --56 percent of all teens, and 70 percent of older teens -- personally know someone their age who's gotten pregnant.

Nearly two-thirds of teens are concerned that they themselves might contract AIDS or another STD; 44 percent are "very concerned." And 59 percent are concerned that they might get pregnant or get someone else pregnant, 47 percent "very concerned" -- equally high among girls and boys alike.

These concerns peak among teens who've had intercourse: Seventy-nine percent are concerned about pregnancy.

Seventy-seven percent of teens who have had intercourse say they or their partner always use a condom, but that means 23 percent don't. Half say they or their partner always use a birth control drug or device such as the pill, the patch or a diaphragm. As noted above, 14 percent don't always do at least one of these -- use a condom, or practice other reliable birth control methods.

METHODOLOGY -- The ABC News survey was conducted by telephone Aug. 2-9, 2004, among a random national sample of 1,001 13- to 17-year-olds. The results have a 3.5-point error margin for all respondents; as in any poll, sampling error is higher for subgroups. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

This poll was conducted after a review of previous surveys on sexual attitudes and behaviors among teenagers. Only female interviewers were used. Teens who answered the phone were interviewed directly; parents who answered were told that the poll dealt with teens' attitudes and behaviors, and that some of the questions were personal in nature. Those who asked were read a sampling of questions, most of which touched upon sexual attitudes and knowledge. Parents or teens with questions or concerns about the survey were invited to call a toll-free number created for that purpose. None did.

To see complete results of this poll, Click Here.

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