Not Counting Marriage and Divorce

Written by Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse


The federal government has decided that it is too expensive to track marriage and divorce data; instead, it has turned its attention to tracking data about sexual activity, behavior, attraction, and identity of teens and adults. The marriage reports used to be detailed accounts (age of bride and groom, rates of marriage by previous marital status, remarriage, etc.) of what was happening across the spectrum of marriage issues. The divorce reports contained similar thorough information about the number of divorces, as well as demographic data about those divorcing.

Now that the CDC no longer keeps track of marriage and divorce, they have the funds and the statistician’s time to compile a lengthy and thorough report on oral sex, anal sex, same-sex contact, and the correlations between sexual attraction and sexual behavior — including among teens only 15 years old. That’s the focus on the sex data front from the latest National Health Statistics Reports (NHSR) Number 36, March 2011, “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United Sates: Data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth.”

The NHSR report purports to be “relevant to demographic and public health concerns, including fertility and sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers and adults” and focuses on those who are 15-44 years of age. Nearly 14,000 respondents entered their answers into a computer without an interviewer. The report found “twice as many women having same-sex contact in their lifetimes compared with men (12 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men).” NHSR also found less than 10 percent of teenagers aged 15-19 have had oral sex with an opposite sex partner, but not vaginal intercourse (7 percent of females and 9 percent of males).

The CDC estimates that about “19 million new cases of STIs [sexually transmitted infections] occur each year,” and “about half of those occur among those who are 15-24 years of age.” The “direct medical cost” of these diseases to the 15- to 24-year-olds alone was estimated at $6.5 billion in the year 2000. The racial disparities are significant –– black teens have the highest rates of Chlamydia and gonorrhea, with black females ages 20-24 not far behind as next highest.

While the focus ostensibly is on STIs, there are 10 graphs of same-sex attraction, sexual identity, sexual behavior, and sexual activity. All this attention produced evidence, not surprisingly, that 86 percent of HIV cases are acquired through sexual behavior (others acquire HIV through transmission from an infected spouse or partner, or from a pregnant mother to her baby) and that the cost of the 50,000 new cases of HIV each year is approximately $20,000 per person.

Has anybody considered the fact that their parents’ divorce is a leading cause of teen involvement in risky behavior, including sexual behaviors that endanger their health and well-being.?

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