We’ve spent over two years immersed in high school life, interviewing teens about their sexual experiences. Our research reveals that many teens engage in casual and extreme sexual behavior.
The students told us that many girls and boys raced to have sex before graduation. One girl accepted a ring with the Silver Ring Thing, a youth abstinence program ”” and lost her virginity two weeks later. Many boys believed that stories about sex made “the man.” And a handful of students engaged in sex acts with multiple partners.
Parents might not want to hear these anecdotes, but the motivations behind them need to be addressed on a national and state level, in sex-ed classes and at family dinner tables. Today, teens are bombarded by sex on TV and the Internet, in music and film. In our culture, sex is often depicted as devoid of intimacy, commitment and emotion. But it’s more than popular culture, too. As Perrotta noted in The New York Times: “Speaking as a former teenage guy, the fact that you might someday get lucky was like the only thing getting you through those years. ”¦ It was the basic narrative of male adolescence.”