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ask: How Young Is too Young For Sex?

By Coach Virginia
 
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Middle school youth are engaging in sexual intercourse as early as age 12, according to a study by researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health.

Christine Markham, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral science at the UT School of Public Health, and colleagues examined sexual risk behaviors among middle school students in a large southeastern U.S. urban public school district.

In the study, Dr Markham, lead researcher and colleagues defined sexual intercourse as vaginal, oral or anal sex. According to their research, by age 12, 12 percent of students had already engaged in vaginal sex, 7.9 percent in oral sex, 6.5 percent in anal sex and 4 percent in all three types of intercourse.

Markham states that these findings are alarming because youth who start having sex before age 14 are much more likely to have multiple lifetime sexual partners, use alcohol or drugs before sex and have unprotected sex, all of which puts them at greater risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or becoming pregnant.

The study found one-third of sexually active students reported engaging in vaginal or anal sex without a condom within the past three months, and one-fourth had four or more partners.

Dr Markam recommends developing prevention programs that address the needs of students who are not yet sexually active in order to promote skills and attitudes to help them wait until they are older to have sex. She also added that there is a need to provide skills and knowledge related to condoms and contraception for youth who are already sexually active. The study also recommends that sexually active students also need to receive accurate and factual information and services related to STDs and pregnancy testing, as well as skills for future abstention and risk reduction for those who intend to remain sexually active.

A common misperception among adolescents is that oral or anal intercourse is not as risky for STD transmission but we know that transmission of non-viral and viral STDs can occur through all three types of intercourse when condoms are not used. So why are our teens missing these facts?

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80 percent of the 435,427 births to mothers ages 15 to 19 were the result of unintended pregnancies. According to the National Vital Statistics Report, birth rates among Hispanic and black teens remain higher than other racial/ethnic groups, including rates among those ages 10 to 14.

How can our EmpowHer members help teens get more educated about this problem so they can make those choices that ensure a better future for them?

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I am glad that you simply shared this useful information with us. 

July 1, 2014 - 1:09am
whittylips22

I was raised in a strict but loving christian family, I was above average in my class, I never got into any trouble. I never did drugs or alcohol, I never went to a single party throughout middle school and/or high school, not because I wasnt allowed to but because it just wasnt my scene. However, I lost my virginity when I was 15 to my high school sweetheart, because I wanted to.. I guess explore. I was not pressured into having sex. I wasn't the kind of girl that got pressured into doing anything. I do not regret the person I lost my virginity to, but if I could change anything, I would have waited until we were older. I never got pregnant or contracted any STDs, luckily. My point is, kids are going to do stupid things, hence the saying, "You live and you learn" You just have to be there for them without the judgement.

April 24, 2012 - 9:45am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Me, myself got brought up in the right way and sexual relations was always talked about within the family, this didn't stop me going out just after my 14th birthday and losing my virginity! Nothing to do with the parents for children doing this, you can be brought up in the best way possible and still turn to drink, drugs and end up pregnant at an early age! Kids so young are doing it because of peer pressure and the 'friends' they hang around with. When I lost my virginity I felt presured into doing it! There is always going to be peer pressure when you go through school. Being supportive of your child no matter what mistakes they make will help them with achieveing the best of they're potential on not being judgemental of they're mistakes! I regret what I did, but you learn from your mistakes.

April 22, 2012 - 7:42am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

"youth who start having sex before age 14 are much more likely to have multiple lifetime sexual partners, use alcohol or drugs before sex and have unprotected sex, all of which puts them at greater risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or becoming pregnant."
how does drinking alcohol get you pregnant?!
retards shouldnt write articles.

December 20, 2010 - 9:46am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Anon

Writing something like "retards shouldn't write articles" is ignorant to begin with.

Secondly, I can explain what the author was saying.

Drugs and alcohol can and do "cause" pregnancy and disease (in a secondary way) due to the fact that they both lower or can actually eliminate inhibitions and cause people to have sex with acquaintances or strangers of an unknown background. Both drugs and alcohol use also cause men and women to risk unprotected sex which in turn leads to pregnancy and disease.

If you have difficulty comprehending any other facts or statistics or the logic behind them, please don't hesitate to ask. We're here to educate!

Best,
~Susan

December 20, 2010 - 12:11pm
Coach Virginia

Alysiak, I agree totally but statistics today paint a dismal picture with no quick answers. In the meantime we have young women exposing themselves to risky behaviors like: unprotected sex, multiple partners, STDs in what seems to be a world of "accepted" norms of engagement. Who do we blame? As a parent of two teens (15 and 13) I must say that I have been blessed with two smart, wonderful kids. They grew up with boundaries of behavior and were encourage to build self-respect. My hubby and I always talked to them from an early age about sexuality, sexual relations and about consequences of risky behaviors and abstinence! I do not believe in taking my daughter to a doctor to get her birth control pills. She is not sexually active and I am sure she will not be for years to come. She is focused on her academics, sports and shopping. She does not date and does not want to date either. But she is socially active at activities sponsored by our church where kids her age share the same value system. My son already knows about what is coming biologically and emotionally. However, on his own he has told me he will not date until he is in college. Gosh! I pray that he does not change his mind...

May 13, 2009 - 10:26pm
alysiak

I'd like to know where the parents are in all of this! We, as parents, should be the primary role models for our children. I believe that, if we do present good models leading by example, instill a healthy sense of self worth and respect for oneself, teach our children about morality - and pay attention to what they're doing, the signs of inappropriate behavior and such - we can help reduce this risky behavior among our adolescents.

The other major problem that we, as parents, need to address well, if not better, is the rampant sexuality exhibited by the entertainment stars our adolescents "idolize" and want to emulate. If ever there was a blatant example of where sex sells, it's in the entertainment industry. And then there is the fashion industry, encouraging young teens to dress like a garden tool, yeesh!

May 13, 2009 - 4:20pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to alysiak)

your wrong, the reason people my age do stuff like that is they trust there friends to much. I trust no one because I was bullied. I am 12, about 2 in 6 of the people in my wealthy private school have had some form of sex. It is sickening especially because they talk about it openly.

April 3, 2012 - 6:44pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

The study's recommendation of separate programs for non-sexually active youngsters and those that are already sexually active is of particular importantance. This a very important subject that often gets politicized on the basis of morality without due consideration between what is ideal for sexuality in young people and what is really going on in terms of the economic and public health consequencies of the risky sexual behavior among children at such young people as featured in this study. More impressive studies such this one by Dr. Markham et al, will hopefully continue to clarify the subject and map a winning way forward to protecting our youth.

May 13, 2009 - 11:20am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Too bad!!! STD cases on the rise!
A friend of mine who works for the largest STD dating == Positivefish. com == told me that the new subscribers have increased 30% over 2008. Rising STD rate sparks online dating sites.

May 7, 2009 - 6:33am
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