By Paula Walter
Recent studies have shown that young people across the country are engaging in risky sexual behavior that can ultimately have a negative effect on their physical and emotional health that may remain with them the rest of their lives. This is happening across the United States, in the State of Tennessee and in Johnson County.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 2011 study, 47.4 percent of all high school students across the United States admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse. The study showed a large percentage of this population did not use any form of birth control. Of the 19,000,000 new sexually transmitted diseases each year, approximately half of those infected were between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. In 2009, more than 400,000 teenage girls between 15 and 19 years old become mothers for the first time. In 2011, there were 102 babies born to girls between the ages of 10 and 14. This includes one infant born in Johnson County. In that same year, four young women from our county between the ages of 15 and 17 also gave birth.
Several adults in Johnson County that come in contact with many local teenagers on a regular basis have recently expressed concern over the rising number of boys and girls engaging in hazardous sexual activities among middle school and high school students. At their request, The Tomahawk will not reveal their identities. Many of these liaisons take place outside and as warmer weather arrives, there are more opportunities for sexual encounters. It has been reported that students are meeting for sex on school grounds, at parking lots and Ralph Stout Park, among other locations. The consensus among the concerned adults is that the teenagers are not embarrassed even when discovered. It was reported their attitude towards sex is flippant and there is no concern for morality or consequences. They often have multiple partners.
In the past five years, there has apparently been a switch and young girls have become the aggressors, the hunters, especially toward high school boys who have a drivers license and access to a vehicle. All of our sources stated that not all, but many, students involved in these sexual activities are kids who come from broken homes where there is little or no adult supervision. There are also young girls who come from homes where they live with unsuspecting grandparents who shower them with love, but are completely unaware of their grandchilds extracurricular activities.
The State of Tennessee conducted a youth risk behavior survey in 2011. Thirty-eight percent of teenagers throughout the state 15 years or younger admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse. For those 16 and 17 years old, that number jumped to 56.5 percent. This breaks down to 37.1 percent of ninth grade students, 48 percent of 10th graders, 59.6 percent of 11th graders and 68.2 percent of 12th graders. There was little difference among black, Hispanic or Latinos or white students in the percentage of those engaging in sexual intercourse. The survey was not county specific and represents the state as a whole.
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