How should I respond when people in my high school say, “Everyone is doing it?”

You could respond in any number of ways. For one, you could ask the person, “If I can prove that the majority of high school students are virgins, will you be abstinent?” The most authoritative research on the sexual activity rates of high school students is the Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. According to this nationwide survey of more than 150 high schools, only about a third of all students are currently sexually active.[1] Since 1991 teen sexual activity rates have been dropping, and now the majority of high school students are virgins.[2]

In fact, between 1991 and 2005 the sexual activity rate of high school boys dropped twice as quickly as that of high school girls![3] Among teens who have already lost their virginity, two-thirds of them wish they had waited longer to have sex (77 percent of girls and 60 percent of guys).[4]

The trend toward chastity is well underway, even if you haven’t noticed it on your campus. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy surveyed teens from around the country, asking them if it was embarrassing for teens to admit that they are virgins. Surprisingly, 87 percent of teens said no, it’s not embarrassing.[5] Most of those who said it was embarrassing were under the age of fifteen. Only 5 percent of older teens (fifteen to seventeen years of age) thought virginity was an embarrassing admission.

Despite the fact that these teens said virginity wasn’t something to be ashamed of, you don’t hear much about it because the sexually active students do all the talking. For some reason chastity gossip just doesn’t seem to spread as quickly. This gives the impression that “everyone is doing it,” when in reality the majority are not.

You could also point out that the “everyone” who is “doing it” is also getting STDs, that “everyone” is breaking up three weeks after they have sex, and “everyone” ends up getting divorced if they stay together long enough to get married. You are in no rush to join any of these crowds. We all have a fear of not being accepted or of being a loner if we do not conform to the world. But you must hold out for the higher standard of love.

The bottom line is this: What is your motivation? Is it to please God or to conform to the world and make life-changing decisions based on the opinions of classmates, most of whom you will probably never see again after graduation? Stay strong. You are worth the wait. Besides, the world needs to see young people who are not scared out of their minds to be chaste. This is something to be proud of, and if enough people on your campus realize this and have the courage to stand up, I would bet the saying “everyone is doing it” may eventually refer to chastity.

[1]. Centers for Disease Control, “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2013.”
[2]. Centers for Disease Control, “Trends in the Prevalence of Sexual Behaviors: National YRBS: 1991–2007,” Fact Sheet (2008).
[3]. Centers for Disease Control, “Trends in HIV-Related Behaviors Among High School Students—United States 1991–2005,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly 55:31 (August 11, 2006), 851–854.
[4]. National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, “America’s Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy: An Annual National Survey,” (December 16, 2003), 17.
[5]. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, “The Cautious Generation? Teens Tell us About Sex, Virginity, and ‘The Talk,”’ (April 27, 2000), 1.

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