There is a spate of stories out regarding a new federal survey that finds declining sexual activity among teens as well as rising use of contraception. But only in The Washington Times did the lede of the story read this way:

Teen sexual activity has dropped significantly since 1995 — primarily, teens say, because it is against their religious or moral values, says a new federal study regarded by many as the “gold standard” for family statistics.

In fairness, most of the other pieces I?ve read suggest that abstinence education is likely playing a role in the decline, which must have been uttered by some of these reporters and their quoted experts through gritted teeth, but the Times piece delves more deeply into the moral sentiments expressed.

The most common reason for delaying sex was because it was “against [their] religion or moral values” — 37.8 percent of girls and 31.4 percent of boys chose this answer. The 2002 survey also found that 13 percent of girls and almost 11 percent of boys had pledged to remain virgins until marriage.

Of course, as the last sentence suggests, it would be a mistake for some conservative commentators to overstate the trend. Also, the Times should not have used the term ?primarily? to describe what the survey showed. Perhaps ?frequently? would have been better, as ?primarily? suggests a majority of teens cited morality as the reason for delaying sex, which is not correct.