Condom Usage Is Dropping Among College Students, Says Study, And Rich Kids Are The Ones To Blame

The theory goes, that as we age, we’re supposed to get smarter. Be more aware. Be more responsible. But that isn’t necessarily the case. In a recent study conducted by Jonathan Bearak of New York University, it was discovered that college students aren't having safe sex. In fact, college seniors are about two and a half times more likely to have unprotected, casual sex than freshman.

Collecting data from twenty schools across the country, both public and private, Bearak found that condom use among college students tend to drop off between freshman and sophomore years. So, what’s the deal? Why are college kids suddenly changing their habits? Bearak says their peers are the cause for blame.

The study found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to use condoms when they first arrived in college compared to those of more privileged backgrounds. During freshman year, students who had the most highly educated mothers had lower reported rates of condom usage. As time progressed, students with lower educated mothers fell to around the same condom usage rate. Bottom line, students are heavily influenced by their peers, or as Bearak put it, just learning to adapt to a “high-education culture.”

In a recent talk with NPR’s Morning Edition show, social science correspondent, Shankar Vedantam discussed the reasoning behind this poor shift in behavior.

“Previous work has shown that your perception of risk is shaped by the community in which you’re embedded. And it may be that people who come from poor communities actually come to college perceiving a higher risk for sexually transmitted diseases … Now, one year after joining college, this new community, students from poor backgrounds seem to feel their risk factors have changed.”

We totally get it. College is supposed to be fun. It's a great time to experiment and hook-up with whoever you want. It's also a good excuse to make crazy mistakes that you're never going to be able to get away with after you're handed that degree.


But real talk, let's be responsible about it people. After all, there are these nasty little things floating around called STDs. What's two seconds of wrapping it up compared to months or even years of uncomfortable itchiness? Who really has time for that?

Images: Tamara Álvarez/Flickr; Giphy