Many Teens Regret Having Sex

New poll also shows parents more influential 
than friends or the media

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2000
Contact: Bill Albert, Director of Communications, (202) 478-8510

(Washington, D.C.) Nearly two-thirds of teens who have had sexual intercourse wish they had waited, according to a poll released today by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. And when it comes to their decisions about sex, teens say parents matter more than they might think.

Although teens in the nationally representative poll said that parents have the most influence regarding their sexual decision-making, more teens say they have gotten information or advice about sex in the past month from the media than any other source.

The results of the poll were released today in Washington by members of the National Campaign's Youth Leadership Team, a diverse group of 29 teenagers from across the country. Among the poll's findings:

  • Regret. Sixty-three percent of teens surveyed who have had sexual intercourse wish they had waited longer. More than one-half of teen boys (55 percent) and the overwhelming majority of teen girls surveyed (72 percent) said they wish they had waited longer to have sex.
  • Parents influential. When asked who influenced their decisions about sex the most, more teens cited their parents than any other influence (37 percent). In comparison, 30 percent of teens said that friends influenced their sexual decision-making the most. An equal percentage (11 percent) of teens identified the media and their religious communities as the most influential.
  • Role of media. Sixty-one percent of teens surveyed said the media has provided them with information or advice about sex in the past month, 57 percent said their friends have, and 55 percent said their parents.
  • Delay sex. Nearly eight of ten teens surveyed (78 percent) agreed that teens should not be sexually active. However, the majority of teens surveyed (54 percent) said that those teens who are sexually active should have access to birth control.
  • Sibling advice. Sixty-four percent of teens would tell a younger brother, sister, or friend not to have sex until they are at least out of high school, but, if they were to have sex, to protect themselves against pregnancy and STDs.
  • Grading sex education. When asked to grade their school sex or abstinence education courses, 59 percent of teens gave them either an "A" or "B."

"This poll is just the latest evidence that many teens are taking a more cautious attitude toward having sex," said Sally Sachar, Deputy Director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. "It also makes clear that parents can and must play an active and continuing role in helping their children understand that sex can wait."

Also released today by the Campaign's Youth Leadership Team is the fact sheet, What Teens Want, a short collection of advice for parents, friends, siblings, the media, schools, and faith communities. Both the poll Not Just Another Thing To Do: Teens Talk About Sex, Regret, and the Influence of Their Parents and What Teens Want are available in their entirety on the Campaign's webpage at www.teenpregnancy.org/today.htm.

For a full copy of the survey, please visit the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy's website at www.teenpregnancy.org/teenwant.pdf.

About the National Campaign Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Founded in 1996, the National Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a goal to reduce the teen pregnancy rate by one-third between 1996 and 2005. For more information about the survey, please contact Bill Albert (202-478-8510) or visit the Campaign's website at http://www.teenpregnancy.org/index.html.

About the Poll

The findings from the poll come from an omnibus telephone survey of 501 teens aged 12 to 17 conducted by International Communications Research of Media, Pennsylvania, on behalf of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The polling took place June 7 - 11, 2000. Poll answers are weighted to provide nationally representative and projectable estimates of the population 12-17 years old. The responses have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.