372 CHAPTER 12
The Physical Changes of Adolescence
■ Puberty encompasses the physical changes that occur in
response to increased hormone levels. ese physical devel-
opments include maturation of the reproductive organs and
consequent menstruation in girls and ejaculation in boys.
Sexual Behavior During Adolescence
■ e sexual double standard often pressures males to view
sex as a conquest and places females in a double bind about
saying yes or no.
■ e percentage of adolescents who masturbate increases
between the ages of 13 and 19.
■ An emerging social phenomenon, adolescent sexting,
involves sending sexually suggestive photos or text messages
via the Internet, cell phones, or other electronic devices.
■ Noncoital sexual expression is a common sexual behavior
among adolescents. Noncoital sex refers to erotic contact
that might include kissing, touching, manual stimulation, or
oral–genital stimulation—but not coitus.
■ Adolescent sexual expression is now more likely to take
place within the context of an ongoing relationship than it
was during Kinsey’s time.
■ A signicant increase in the number of both young men and
young women who experience intercourse by age 19 has
occurred over the last ve decades. is increase has been
considerably more pronounced among females.
■ Teenagers engage in blogging, social networking with peers,
seeking health information, accessing pornography, research-
ing school topics, and posting personal proles.
■ Adolescent participation in forced or consensual multi-per-
son sex (MPS) is an emerging public health concern. MPS is
associated with a variety of variables including experiencing
sex prior to age 15, having an STI, dating and/or child sexual
abuse victimization, and recent exposure to pornography.
■ During the 1990s and early 2000s, adolescent coital rates
leveled o and even decreased appreciably for all but young
■ Same-sex experiences during adolescence can be experi-
ments or an expression of permanent sexual orientation.
■ e United States has the highest rate of adolescent preg-
nancy in the industrialized West. In recent years the incidence
of adolescent pregnancy in the United States has fallen.
■ Approximately 750,000 unmarried U.S. adolescent females
become pregnant each year. Adolescent pregnancy is often
associated with social, medical, educational, and nancial
■ Many adolescents who have intercourse do not use contra-
ceptives consistently or eectively.
■ e low rate of contraceptive use among U.S. adolescents
is related to a number of factors, including ignorance, false
beliefs, inadequate home- or school-based sex education,
misconceptions about health risks associated with some
contraception methods, embarrassment over acquiring con-
traceptive devices, concerns about condentiality, and lack of
communication with partners about birth control.
■ Strategies for reducing the teenage pregnancy rate in the
United States include upgrading the family planning clinic
system, establishing a compulsory national sex educa-
tion curriculum, educating males about their contracep-
tive responsibility, providing access to condoms in middle
schools and high schools, and increasing dialogue between
parents and children about sex.
■ One answer to the question of when to start discussing sex
with our children is when they start asking questions. If com-
munication does not spontaneously occur, it may be helpful
for parents to initiate dialogue, perhaps by simply sharing
their feelings or asking nonstressful, open-ended questions.
■ Some important topics—particularly menstruation, rst
ejaculation, and nocturnal orgasms—are rarely discussed
unless parents take the initiative.
■ Although most adolescents prefer their parents to be the
primary source of sex information, evidence indicates that
peers are considerably more likely than parents to provide
this information, often in a biased and inaccurate manner.
■ Even though an overwhelming majority of parents and other
adults support school sex education, only a minority of Amer-
ican schools oer comprehensive sex education programs.
■ Research indicates that comprehensive school-based sex
education programs increase the use of birth control, reduce
teenage pregnancies, reduce high-risk sexual behavior, do
not hasten the onset or frequency of coitus, and do not
increase the number of an adolescent’s sexual partners.
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Positive Sexuality, A Web Page by Teens for Teens, Guttmach-
er Institute, Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), Sex, etc., Teen-
wire, two websites sponsored by the American Social Health
Association, and Advocates for Youth.
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