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Home Alone and Having Sex

Home Alone and Having Sex
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Dec. 2, 2002 -- Forget lover's lane and the backseat of a borrowed car on a Saturday night, most teens are having sex at home after school. A new study shows 91% of sexually active high school students last had sex in a home setting, such as their own home, their partner's home, or at a friend's house. And prime time for sexual activity is before their parents get home from work.

The survey of urban teens also found that the more time teenagers spent unsupervised after school, the more likely they were to be sexually active, have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), or, in the case of boys, use tobacco or alcohol.

The results appear in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Researchers say the findings show boosting participation in after-school activities and increasing adult supervision at home or at community centers are worth considering as tools to help reduce risky behaviors like sex and drug use among youth. Until now, most interventions have focused primarily on promoting abstinence, refusal skills, and negotiation tactics.

The survey involved about 2,000 students from six urban public high schools who participated in a school-based STD screening program. Ninety-eight percent of the students were black and most lived in a single-parent home.

More than half of the students said they were at home without adult supervision for four or more hours per day after school; there was no difference in the number of unsupervised hours after school between children living in one- or two-parent homes.

Researchers found teens that were unsupervised for 30 or more hours per week were more likely to be sexually active compared to those who were unsupervised for five hours or less a week (80% vs. 68%). Among the 91% of teens who said the last time they had sex was in a home setting, 37% had sex in their own home, 43% at their partner's home, and 12% at a friend's house.

Fifty-six percent of the youths who had intercourse said it happened on a weekday, and 35% reported that it happened before 6 p.m. versus 21% after 6 p.m.

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