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African-American Youth Being Pressured to Have Sex

Abstinence before marriage can be a difficult principle to live by, and for African-American youth the pressure to have sex may be more than some can handle. A new survey of 1,500 African-American youth ages 13-21 shows 45 percent of participants who are sexually active said they were pressured to go further sexually than they wanted.

The survey was released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and will be featured in the October issue of ESSENCE magazine. The participants were questioned about sex, dating, relationships and the media to determine what factors affect their decisions to have or not have sex.

“I was elated that Essence, a secular Black magazine, chose to even run the story along with the data,” said Rev. Clenard Childress Jr., the founder of, according to LifeSiteNews.

The teen pregnancy rate among African-Americans has decreased 44 percent since 1990, and the teen birth rate has dropped 47 percent since 1991, ESSENCE wrote in a statement.

“The truly extraordinary declines in too-early pregnancy and parenthood among African-American youth should be recognized and celebrated as one of the nation's great success stories of the past two decades,” said Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign.

“Still, the rate of teen pregnancy remains disproportionately high among African-American youth suggesting that the nation needs to explore more targeted and innovative approaches that will help.”

The survey demonstrated that despite being well-informed about the consequences of engaging in unprotected sex, African-American youth still take risks when it comes to having sex. Nine out of 10 said they do not want to become pregnant; however, 45 percent said they inconsistently use birth control, the National Campaign reported.

According to the survey, 50 percent of participants felt pressured by society to have sex, 48 percent by the media and 36 percent by their partners. The National Campaign also found that images in the media contribute to the attitudes African-American youth have towards sex.

An overwhelming percentage of participants believe TV shows and movies they watch portray countless negative images of African-American youth. Researchers found 73 percent believe the media portrays African-American youth as sexually aggressive and deviant, versus 39 percent who believe Whites are similarly portrayed.

The participants also feel invisible in the media, with less than 18 percent of them believing the media accurately portrays African-American youth. Instead, the images they see are insulting and portray them as less intelligent, more prone to failure and less successful in relationships than White characters on TV shows and movies, the National Campaign has reported.

Rev. Childress believes societal pressures have resulted in the disproportionate rate of African-American women having abortions.

“The multiple images, lyrics and instruction [young African-Americans’] minds are exposed to can only result in ill advised sexual behavior,” he added, according to LifeSiteNews.

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