Black Youth Open Up About Pressure to Have Sex

Black Youth Open Up About Pressure to Have Sex

Nearly half of Black teens polled in a study said they have been pressured to go further sexually than they wanted to.

Published October 1, 2011

In a new study, Under Pressure: What African-American Teens Aren’t Telling You About Sex, Love and Relationships, released by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Essence Magazine, of those who have had sex, 45 percent of teens said they have been pressured to go further sexually than they wanted to and 48 percent said they lied to get out of a sexual situation. Despite the fact Black teen pregnancy in the U.S. has declined 44 percent in the past two decades — four percent more than the national average — Black youth admit the temptation is out there, and very real.


The study used responses from 1,500 Black youth ages 13–21. Surprisingly, teens said the pressure comes more from society (51 percent) and the media (48 percent) than it does from their partners (36 percent). Even more troubling is the use — or apparent lack of use — of contraception. Nine out of 10 teens reported they do not want to get pregnant or cause a pregnancy right now, but 45 percent say the use birth control inconsistently and nearly one in five (18 percent) say it doesn’t matter whether they use contraception or not because “when it’s your time to get pregnant, you will.” Nearly half of the young women (47 percent) said they have had a pregnancy scare and 16 percent of the young men said it is likely they will get someone pregnant during their teen years.


Nearly four in 10 females who said they don’t always use contraception said it’s because their partner doesn’t want them to. These actions often lead to regret: Nearly two-thirds of young girls (62 percent) said they wish they had waited longer to have had sex for the first time. Half young men (50 percent) who were sexually active said that at some point they have had sex and regretted it afterwards.


More positively, parents are the most powerful influence on sex and relationships, even more than the media and friends, the teens said. Nearly Half (49 percent) of 13 to 15-year-olds say their parents' opinions matter most when they are deciding whether or not to have sex, however that number drops to 17 percent among those ages 19–21. Two thirds of youth (67 percent) believe in the power of parent/teen conversations, saying that if more teens were able to have open, honest conversations with their parents about sex, fewer teens would get pregnant.


Written by Britt Middleton


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