From Bustle’s “5 Prom Traditions That Perpetuate Rape Culture“:
Bustle’s article looks primarily at prom traditions supporting the idea that young women are targets for young teenage men (who are painted as sexual predators). Problematic are traditions like insisting that young woman dress conservatively at prom (because they are objects and therefore responsible for inviting rape if they dress provocatively); and the traditional Dad-threatening-prom-date trope that makes only males responsible for the sexual safety of teenage young women.
According to one Kaiser Family Foundation study, one-third of boys and 23 percent of girls ages 15-17 feel pressure to have sex, and prom can exacerbate this. After-prom parties are often considered an opportunity for high schoolers to reach sexual milestones. This can lead students both to feel internal pressure and to put pressure on one another.
From Psychology Today’s “Peer Pressure and Teen Sex“:
One in three boys ages 15-17 say they feel pressure to have sex,
often from male friends. Teen girls feel less pressure–only 23 percent
said they felt such coercion. Researchers questioned 1,854 subjects
between the ages of 13 and 24 in a national survey.
The study, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, also found
that teens feel strong pressure to drink and try drugs. The study
findings show a need for sex education at a young age, say the study
The availability and quality of sexual health information and sexuality education varies drastically across the country. Less than half of all high schools and only 20% of middle schools in the U.S. provide all 16 of the CDC-identified topics critical to ensuring sexual health. (CDC) In addition, many young people face systemic barriers to accessing health information and services, resulting in persistent inequity and disparities. (CDC)
The data on disparities and disproportionate burden on young people continue to highlight the need for additional resources to serve young people most in need of sexual health education.
- HIV infection rates are increasing among young people, particularly among young men who have sex with men (CDC) – young people under the age of 25 account for 1 in 5 new HIV infections. (CDC)
- Half of the nearly 20 million estimated new STIs each year in the U.S. occur among people ages 15–24. (CDC)
- Despite historically low unintended teen pregnancy and birth rates in the U.S., the country continues to have the highest rate of teen births among comparable countries. (UNICEF)
- A devastating 10% of high school students report experiencing partner violence and/or sexual violence. (CDC)
Note: the CDC figure looks only at partner violence and sexual violence. In terms of sexual assault of teens in general, the American Psychological Association reported in 2014 that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls report having been sexually assaulted by age 18. (1)
- “Child Sexual Abuse: What Parents Should Know,” American Psychological Association. (http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/child-sexual-abuse.aspx) (February 19, 2014)