SALEM, OR—The Alan Guttmacher Institute released a report Friday that showed a dramatic increase in teen sexual activity, a finding that surprised policy-makers, public-health professionals, and 17-year-old Tom Ellis.
"So, more teens are having sex, are they?" Ellis asked Monday. "Well, I'm not sure where those guys got all their data, but it sure wasn't from me."
Ellis, a senior this fall at Sprague High School in Salem, learned of the trend while watching television at home Saturday, as he does most weekend nights. A 20/20 story titled "The Teen Sex Epidemic" informed him that 82.6 percent of his peers aged 15 to 19 have engaged in some form of sexual contact with another person.
"Really?" Ellis asked. "Eight out of 10 teens? There's an epidemic?"
While excited by the findings on teen sexuality, Ellis has yet to observe the increase in his own life.
"I mean, it's summer, and I can't help but notice all the girls wearing sexy dresses and tank tops and stuff," he said. "But, does that mean I'm one millimeter closer to getting some tail? No, sir."
"Doesn't matter that I've grown six inches this year, that I've been working out in my basement, or that I dress in Gap clothes, like everyone else," Ellis continued. "Girls like Kelly [Mehan] and Michelle [Lehrer] still totally ignore me. At this rate, I'll be lucky to French [kiss] a girl before college."
Although teen sexual activity is on the rise, the Guttmacher report indicated that the teen pregnancy rate has dropped to a 13-year low.
"More teens are engaging in sex, but a larger percentage of them are doing so responsibly," said Dr. Jerry Kendall, a senior researcher for the Guttmacher Institute. "There's an increased access to and acceptance of proper contraceptives, mainly the condom, even among the disenfranchised teen population. An additional factor is the marked casualization of oral sex, which is often substituted for full intercourse."
"Really?!" Ellis asked. "Blow jobs? Well, that national trend hasn't spread to Salem yet, because I'm about one blow job shy of joining that statistic. It would take a miracle to get a girl to go down on me."
Ellis did confirm that he would use a condom if he were to have sex.
"You have sex, you wear a condom," said Ellis, who has practiced proper condom use alone in his bedroom. "At least that's what everybody says. I certainly wouldn't know from experience because, clearly, I'm a freak. I'm one of the pathetic 18 percent who still haven't even seen, much less touched, a naked breast. Well, rest assured: When and if I ever get the chance to have sex, I will definitely know how to put on a condom."
Although Ellis has carefully documented his intense desire for a sexual encounter in his journal, that desire hasn't translated into sexual activity. Ellis insisted that this is not by choice.
"Hey, I'm not one of those weird abstinence kids," Ellis said. "There's nothing I would like better than to waste myself on the wrong girl. I just want to know: Where in the hell are all these millions of loose teenage girls? Because they certainly don't go to my school."
According to friend Doug Binder, Ellis' chances of joining the growing ranks of the sexually experienced are slim.
"Tom?" Binder asked. "He's doomed to virginity, just like me. But, hey, that doesn't stop us from talking and thinking about sex all the freaking time. For all our yapping about what we'd do if we were ever alone with a girl, neither of us is anywhere near getting some action."
Although he admitted he was startled by the report, Ellis said he remains hopeful for the future.
"I've still got two years to get laid and join the majority," Ellis said. "I mean, I've heard guys talking about all the girls they've slept with, but I thought they were just making it up. Turns out, everyone really was having sex all that time. Well, thanks, 20/20. Now I know what a complete loser I am."