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Harvard report: Millennials not interested in casual sex

A new report shatters misconceptions about sex and young people.

ByABC News
May 17, 2017, 8:12 AM

— -- Millennials are more interested in dating or hanging out with friends than having casual sex, according to a new Harvard University report that looks into the "hook-up culture" of young adults.

In the report, entitled "The Talk," researchers from Harvard's Graduate School of Education spoke to over 2,000 18-to-25-year-old's from across the U.S. about their romantic and sexual experiences.

The report stated that many young adults and teenagers "tend to greatly overestimate the size of the "hook-up culture" and these misconceptions can be detrimental to young people."

The researchers also found that a "large number of teens and young adults are unprepared for caring, lasting romantic relationships and are anxious about developing them."

Richard Weissbourd, the lead author of the report and a psychologist at Harvard Graduate School of Education, told ABC News that the report "is about two pervasive problems."

"One is, we are failing ... miserably to prepare young people for romantic love, probably the most important thing they will do in life," Weissbourd said. "The second is that there are very high rates of misogyny and sexual harassment."

Weissbourd added that they found that among 18-to-25-year-old's, "people wildly overestimate the percent of people who are casually dating, or ... having casual sex."

Weissbourd said that these misunderstandings can be detrimental because "these overestimations of the size of the hook-up culture can cause young people to have sex or to hook up when they're not really interested, and they're not really ready."

Researchers also examined instances of sexual harassment faced by millennials, including everything from being cat-called to being touched without permission by a stranger. The report suggested that the more women succeed in school and life, it seems the harder it is for men to respect them.

Weissbourd told ABC News that a lot of adults can be "passive" about instances of sexual harassment.

"They don't say anything, even when sexual harassment is right in their midst," Weissbourd said. "And many tell us ... they don't say anything because they don't know what to say. And they fear that they won't be effective, or they fear they will be written off."

ABC News spoke to a group of millennials, and chose to use only their first names for privacy, about the report and their own experiences.

Yemisi, 20, told ABC News how conflicted she felt when witnessing certain instances of sexual harassment.

"There's this borderline between harassment and throwing someone a compliment...when people harass you, it's like, oh that's a compliment," Yemi said. "If we just let them say it, and even though we're walking by, and we might just keep our head high and keep going on, but, like, by not saying anything is making it okay."

Weissbourd added that some of the positive findings that came out of the report are that a lot of young people want guidance about how to have a healthy relationship.

"One thing young people want guidance about are, what are the markers of a healthy relationship? What do they look like? When do I know when I'm in a toxic relationship, or a relationship that's going to be harmful in some way?" Weissbour said. "They really want guidance on these kinda topics from parents and educators."

ABC News' Taylor Behrendt contributed to this report.