Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said he is encouraged by the disclosure that more young people have had no sexual contact.
"The adult view is, when it comes to teens and sex . . . that things are bad and getting worse," Albert said. "I don't want to be Pollyanna-ish and say that there's nothing but good news here, but by and large the news is good."
But Albert said he believes that the statistics indicating most youths are engaging in oral sex before intercourse may be nebulous.
"What is 'before' -- an hour, or two days? My strong suspicion here is that sexual activity tends to co-occur . . . they're probably going to have vaginal sex shortly thereafter," he said. "For some young people, they're running the bases backwards. They used to go from more casual to more intimate, but that's not necessarily the case these days."
Sexuality expert Dr. Jennifer Berman said it's not surprising that young people engage in oral sex first because it's now considered a way to gain status and prestige among their peers.
Also, "It often has to do with sexual education or the lack thereof," said Berman, director of the Berman Women's Wellness Center in Beverly Hills, Calif. "Young people don't perceive oral sex as sex and think they're still virgins if there's no penetration."
Chandra and Berman had very different takes on why twice as many women reported same-sex contact as men.
"Whether [the gender discrepancy] is real or they simply have a higher comfort level reporting that, I can't say," Chandra said. "Their comfort . . . may bolster their honesty and disclosure level."
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