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Not only did the media gloss over tons of information on oral sex, anal sex, and sexual identity, they also ignored some of the subtleties of this new news on “virginity.” In truth, the change was very small and only statistically significant when looked at for the whole group of 15 to 24 year olds; when looked at in two separate groups 15 to 19 and 20 to 24 years it was no longer significant (and let’s face when it comes to how we feel about young people and sex there’s a whole world between a 16-year-old and a 23-year-old). More importantly, this statistic only refers to those young people who had never had any sexual contact (by which the researchers meant oral, anal, or vaginal sex) with another person; the percentage of young people who had had vaginal sex, for example, was unchanged from 2002, and we have no idea whether they were kissing, caressing, or otherwise canoodling.

It is true that the young people who fit into this no-sexual-contact-of-any-kind category are protected from sexually transmitted disease (STDs) and pregnancy. But I don’t think this is why the media zeroed in on this finding or why one expert declared it “extraordinary progress on a social issue that many once considered intractable.” When it comes to teen sexual behavior, our society seems to remain stuck on the idea that no sex is the only acceptable finding.

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More Teen Virgins? Not So Fast.