June 27, 2016
To arrange an interview with Ascend, contact Christine Eckley
at 202-248-5420 or ceckley@WeAscend.org.
For Immediate Release:
New Government Report:
Young Black Males Show Most Improvement in Sexual Risk Avoidance Choices
In an encouraging bit of news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released 2015 data from the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The big news is the dramatic 28 percent increase, since 1991, in the percentage of teens who have never had sex. 
But the biggest news of all has eluded the front page of the papers. And that is of all ethnicities studied in the survey, African American teens showed the most dramatic increase in waiting for sex. And African American male teens were largely responsible for the increase.
Overall, the percent of black teens who did not have sex increased 178%, but the increase for black males was 246% between 1991 and 2015. The increase is both unprecedented and enormously greater than any other ethnicity.
For example, among Hispanic teens, the percent who did not have sex increased 23%. For white teens, the percent increased 20%. And while the overall proportion of teens who have not had sex is greater in Hispanic (57.5%) and white teens (60.1), their numbers have improved more modestly than for black teens.
Why is this increase so significant? Two decades ago nearly 9 in 10 black male teens had sex and now the number is slightly less than 6 in 10. While still too high, the improvement translates into more options and opportunities for these teens. When teens wait longer before having sex, they improve their chances for other positive outcomes in their lives.
Compelling social science researchcorrelates waiting for sex with an impressive list of social, health, and economic advantages. This includes an increased likelihood for school success, healthier relationships, and better economic futures, in addition to the obvious advantage of avoiding teen pregnancy and STDs. African Americans are at greatest risk for living in povertyand African American males are at greatest risk for leaving high school without graduating. Poverty prevention research closely ties these three behaviors together: graduating, gaining skills for full-time employment and waiting until married before having children. Avoiding sex as teens begins the process toward adulthood without poverty.
Valerie Huber, President/CEO of Ascend lauded this good news with an encouragement: “The new YRBS research showing the dramatic increase in waiting for sex among black males and females is a positive start toward avoiding poverty in their futures. But it is only a start.
This encouraging data should jump-start a new conversation surrounding the so-called ‘inevitability’ of teen sex. And that conversation should steel our resolve to avoid the never-acceptable soft bigotry of low expectations - for any young person. Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education is the healthiest choice for any teen and we are committed to the work of ensuring that every teen has access to the skills and information that will help them avoid sex now so that they have an increased opportunity for a brighter future.”
Ascend (formerly the National Abstinence Education Association) champions youth to make healthy decisions in relationships and life by promoting well being through a primary prevention strategy, and as a national membership and advocacy organization that serves, leads, represents and equips the Sexual Risk Avoidance field.