Americans increasingly think sex between teenagers is acceptable.
A majority, 54 percent, think it’s morally wrong, and 42 percent think it’s morally acceptable, according to a survey conducted by Gallup.
Since Gallup first asked the question in 2013, the number who think sex between teenagers is acceptable has climbed 10 percentage points, six percentage points in the past year alone.
Gallup found that different age groups had different opinions, with 59 percent of those 18-29-years-old saying it was acceptable. For adults aged 65 or over, only 31 percent said it is morally acceptable.
There was also a difference of opinion among liberals and conservatives, with 60 percent of liberals saying sex between teens is acceptable, compared to only 26 percent of conservatives.
Religious views also influenced how teenage sex is viewed. Among Americans who “seldom or never” go to church, 54 percent said it is acceptable. Only 20 percent of weekly churchgoers agreed. For those who attend church nearly weekly or monthly, 34 percent said it was acceptable.
“Whether sex between teenagers continues to become more accepted among Americans could largely hinge on the views of adults younger than 30 – currently the sole age demographic in which a majority says teen sex is morally acceptable,” Gallup wrote in a news release.
“If these young adults carry their views with them as they age, this could become a more mainstream view. But if their views become more conservative as they graduate into the next age bracket, teenage sex could remain a practice that most Americans feel is morally wrong.”
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey in 2017, 40 percent of American high schoolers had engaged in sexual intercourse. Despite that, teen birth rates continue to fall, hitting a “historic” low in 2015, down eight percent from 2014.
On the topic of premarital sex, Gallup found that nearly 70 percent of Americans thinks it’s morally acceptable, which is up 13 points from 2001 and 2002. Only 28 percent said it is morally wrong. That was down from 42 percent in 2001 and 2002.
“Since 2001, most U.S. adults have consistently felt that sex between unmarried adults is morally acceptable – and they have become even more likely to view it as acceptable since,” Gallup wrote. “But these views do not extend to sex between teens, as Americans remain more likely to say it is morally wrong – though the percentage saying it’s morally acceptable has grown in recent years.”