Don't Give Up!!! Sex, Lies, and Middle School Gossip

“SAFE SEX” EDUCATION : SEX, LIES & MIDDLE SCHOOL GOSSIP* Word has it that eighth-graders are having sex. Or maybe you’ve heard about kids dodging into bushes for hanky-panky on the walk home. In a culture saturated with sex, today’s young adolescents are freely passing along whatever gossip they hear. Their tales of purported trysts are echoed at PTA meetings, on the bleachers and in the supermarket aisles, as alarmed parents grill each other for details. But hold on: According to several well-respected national surveys, the chatter apparently far surpasses action among young adolescents. Although experts agree that younger teens are far more knowledgeable about sex than previous generations, the studies find that middle-school kids are actually waiting longer to become sexually active than they did just seven years earlier. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)reported that in 2002, 13 percent of girls had had sex by the time they turned 15, down from 19 percent in 1995. The drop for boys was similar, from 21 percent to 15 percent. Rates for black teens, which had been two to 3.5 times higher than for whites, fell even more dramatically. Sandy Pickert, an educator with Abstinence Education Inc. in Wichita, says recent sessions with middle- and high-school students reveal that sexual activity “does seem to be going down. “Kids are much more open to abstinence and much more articulate about why they’re choosing abstinence,” Pickert said. “The same way they’re making a decision not to smoke, they’re really thinking about the consequences (of sexual activity) and making better choices.” Although skeptics might question teens’ truthfulness in reporting...