A few years ago, talk show host Oprah Winfrey warned of a teenage oral sex epidemic. Data released earlier this month seemed to confirm they were engaging in risky sexual behaviour, when the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics reported the teenage birth rate had risen for the first time in over 10 years. But that’s misleading, the New York Times reports: in fact, teens today are more sexually conservative than the previous generation. Just 48 per cent of high school students had had sex in 2007, down from 54 per cent in 1991, according to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. As for oral sex, national statistics are relatively new, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be an “epidemic.” Roughly 16 per cent of teens have had oral sex but not intercourse. Adults, too, take a less restrictive view of oral sex than they did a few generations ago, researchers note. People may think teens are engaging in risky sexual behaviour because dating norms have changed, experts say. While it was once a structured activity, today’s dates are more likely to be a casual gathering of teens, and “fooling around” doesn’t always leading to a structured relationship.