Sexual Activity, Sex Education & Contraception

Sexual Activity, Sex Education & Contraception

 

Child

Sexual Activity

Through 2000 children age 13 and older were asked about age at first intercourse. (Once children reach the Young Adult survey they are asked questions about sexual activity; see below.) A CSAS confidential report form was used from 1988 to 2000 to collect information on early sexual activity for children 13 and older. In 2000 the questions on the CSAS confidential card about live births were eliminated since this information is now collected as the children become young adults. Starting in 2002, questions about early sexual activity are no longer administered to children under age 15.

The following questions, which were asked in the 1988-2000 surveys of children ages 13 and 14, were deleted from subsequent survey rounds:

CSASCC2A       Have you ever had sexual intercourse? ("had sex", "made it", etc.)
CSASCC2A       What grade were you in when you first had sexual intercourse?
CSASCC2B       How old were you when you first had sexual intercourse?

Sex Education

Starting in 1988, children age 10 and older report in the Child Self-Administered Supplement, on whether they ever had a sex education class at school and the timing of the class. For the survey years 1988 to 2000, data users will find the following four items:

  1. HAS CHILD EVER HAD A SEX EDUCATION CLASS AT SCHOOL
  2. GRADE IN WHICH CHILD HAD SEX EDUCATION CLASS
  3. MONTH CHILD HAD SEX EDUCATION CLASS IN SCHOOL
  4. YEAR CHILD HAD SEX EDUCATION CLASS IN SCHOOL

 Starting in 2002, the child sex education questions are limited to the following two items:

  1. HAS CHILD EVER HAD A SEX EDUCATION CLASS AT SCHOOL
  2. GRADE IN WHICH CHILD HAD SEX EDUCATION CLASS

This latter series of two items also continues to be asked in the NLSY79 Young Adults, but unlike in the Child, where children are asked each survey round, young adults who have previously reported this information are not asked in subsequent survey rounds (see below).

Discussions about Sex

Since 1998, the Child Self-Administered Supplement has included a question about who in the family the child usually talks to about sex. From 1988 to 2000, the question asks the child to select any family members they talk to about sex. Starting in 2002, the child is asked to select a single family member that they usually talk to about sex (CSAS094A). They are then asked whether the child usually talks to someone else in the family about sex (CSAS094B).  Since 2002, children are also asked who outside of the family they usually talk to about sex (CSAS094C).

Important Information

While the Child sex education items are all self-reported in the Child Self-Administered Supplement, users should note that starting in 2006, the CSAS is a section inside the Child Supplement and not a separate questionnaire. Thus, these items are assigned to the area of interest titled CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT from 1988-2004, and to multiple areas of interest (CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT and CHILD SUPPLEMENT) starting in 2006.

 

Survey Instruments Questions on sexual activity, sex education, and discussions about sex are contained in the Child Self-Administered Supplement.
Areas of Interest CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT
CHILD SUPPLEMENT (2006-2010)

 

Young Adult

Sexual Activity

All rounds of the Young Adult survey have contained a core set of questions about sexual activity and contraceptive use. Questions that have been asked in all rounds include:

  • Whether the respondent has ever had sex
  • Age when they first had sex
  •  The number of sexual partners in the last 12 months
  • How long ago the respondent last had sex
  • Whether the respondent or the partner used birth control and if so then
  • What kind of birth control was used (Note: In 2000, the question about type of contraception used was split into two questions: one about what the respondent used and one about what the partner used. These two questions continue to be asked. Data concerning contraceptive use prior to each pregnancy resulting in a live birth are also available in all survey rounds).

In 1998 these were expanded to include:

  • Whether the respondent was living with the last person they had sex with
  • What that person's relationship to the respondent was
  • How old that person was

Since 2004, a series of questions has been asked of respondents who do not report a partner on the household record but indicate that the most recent time they had sexual intercourse was within the last month and their relationship to their sexual partner is either engaged, living together, or going steady. They are asked:

  • Whether they spend the night at one or the other's place and if so
  • How many nights a week they spend the entire night together
  • Whether they share household expenses such as rent, groceries or utilities

In 1994 to 1998, Young Adults were asked the month and year they first had sexual intercourse, but this question was dropped in 2000.

Sex Education

Between 1994 and 1998, respondents were asked if they had ever had a sex education class and, if so, in what grade. From 2000 onwards these questions are only asked of Young Adults aged 18 and under who have not previously reported having had a sex education class, either in the Child Self-Administered Supplement or a previous Young Adult survey. Questions about sex education were dropped as part of the 2014 redesign.

In 2002, a question was added about when in the menstrual cycle pregnancy is most likely to occur. From 2002 through 2010, this was asked of all respondents. Since 2012, it has been asked only of Young Adults who are aged 18 and younger.

Discussions about Sex

From 1994 to 1998 Young Adults were asked who in their family they talked to about sex, with respondents instructed to code all possible answers that applied. This question was omitted in 2000 but reintroduced in 2002 for respondents aged 18 and under. At that time a comparably structured question about who outside their family they talk to about sex was added. Both questions have been asked continuously since 2002.

Comparison to Other NLS Cohorts: Information on sexual activity was gathered from NLSY79 respondents in the 1983-85 surveys; data on contraception have been regularly collected since 1982. NLSY79 Children age 13 and older reported on their sexual activity in the 1988-2000 Child Self-Administered Supplement. 

In NLSY97 rounds 1 and 2, questions on sexual activity were asked of respondents who were at least 14 years old; all respondents were eligible in later rounds. These respondents were first asked if they had ever had sexual intercourse and if they had intercourse since the last interview (later rounds). If a respondent reported ever having sexual intercourse, questions were asked about the first occurrence, such as the respondent's age and whether the respondent and the partner used birth control. For more precise details about the content of each survey, consult the appropriate cohort's User's Guide using the tabs above for more information.

Survey Instruments Questions on sexual activity, sex education and contraception are found in the Young Adult Instrument, Young Adult Self Report Section. Data concerning contraceptive use prior to pregnancies are found in Section 12, Fertility.
Area of Interest YA Self Report
YA Birth Record (year)