According to this Time.com article, over 10% of teenagers diagnosed with some sort of sexually transmitted disease or infection, such as chlamydia, claim that they’ve never had sex. Obviously there’s something wrong with this statement.
Overall, as I see it, the main issue here is with self-reporting, as it can count for a lot of disparities in information. Health-care providers often rely on self-reporting in order to get accurate information, but obviously it’s up to the patient to give the correct information. As far as I can tell, there are at least two possible reasons for the disparity.
- Dishonesty. Teens often feel ashamed for having sex (usually when they’ve been taught abstinence only), and therefore won’t fess up to doing the nasty, even though the results speak for themselves.
- Lack of knowledge. It’s very possible that these teens think they aren’t really having sex (along the lines of “hey, it’s oral sex, not real sex”). It’s also possible that those who have had non-consensual sex (e.g., or have been sexually assaulted or raped) have been put at risk for STIs but don’t count this as “sex” because it’s nothing they chose to engage in.
Either way, it’s important that teens be fully educated on all of their safe-sex options so that they can make the right decisions for themselves and their partners. Teens are gonna have sex no matter what, and it’s our job as sex-positive, safe-sex advocates to make sure they know what they’re receiving accurate sex education and know what they’re doing and how to protect themselves.