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Study finds risky behavior among teens

Associated Press / October 25, 2010

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NEW YORK — Nearly one-10th of sexually active New York City high school students say they have had at least one same-sex partner, and teens who say they’ve had sexual contact with both sexes report higher-than-average rates of dating violence, forced sex, and risky sexual behavior, a new study says.

The study published today in the journal Pediatrics analyzed 17,220 public health surveys and found that more than a third of teens who had same-sex encounters identified themselves as straight. Advocates said the results point to the need for public health messages to target behavior, not identity.

It’s troubling, though not surprising, that the youths who reported encounters with both sexes also had higher rates of risky behavior and violence, said Dr. Susan Blank, assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “It has been shown in the literature that students who have both male and female partners have a lot of adverse health problems,’’ she said.

The report is based on surveys administered in New York City high schools in 2005 and 2007. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey is distributed every two years by the health department to a representative sampling of city high schools.

Of the students who completed the survey, 7,261 said they had had sexual intercourse. The survey asked questions including the number of sex partners in the teen’s lifetime, as well as in the previous three months, and whether there was a history of forced sex or dating violence.

Among the sexually active males, 93.1 percent said they had had sexual contact only with female partners, 3.2 percent said they’d had contact only with other males, and 3.7 percent said they’d had male and female partners.

Among the sexually active females, 88.1 percent said they’d had sex only with males, 3.2 percent said they’d had only female partners, and 8.7 percent said they’d had partners of both sexes.

Of all the sexually active teens, 9.3 percent reported at least one same-sex partner.

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