A new study of 1,000 low-income families in three major U.S. cities found that one in four children between the ages of 11 and 16 reported having sex, with their first sexual intercourse experience occurring at the average age of 12.77.
The Iowa State University news services reports:
” ‘So if 12 years was the average age here, that meant that some kids were starting at 10 or younger,’ said Brenda Lohman, an Iowa State University associate professor of human development and family studies (HDFS). ‘A handful of kids reported having sex as early as 8 or 9. We know from our follow-up interviews that one boy who reported having sexual intercourse for the first time at age nine had fathered four children by the time he was 18.’
“In the study, boys reported their first sexual intercourse at younger ages (averaging 12.48) than girls (13.16). Boys also had nearly 10 percent higher frequency of intercourse than girls.”
“Recent national research has found that 13 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys have had sex by the time they’re 16. Lohman says that means the rate of sex among her low-income sample is only slightly higher among the girls, but almost double among the boys.”
“African Americans also had 12 percent more early sexual intercourse than whites (29 to 17 percent respectively), although racial differences did not change the age of their first intercourse.”
The study found kids were more likely to have sex if: they committed juvenile crimes, were out past curfew, and had instability at home.
“They found that additional maternal education — beyond a high school level — was found to inhibit some of that activity.”
” ‘That can be for multiple reasons,’ Lohman said. ‘It can be that mothers have better paying jobs and more stable home environment and they’re less likely to be in stressful circumstances. It could also be that mothers then have greater cognitive capacities to sort of sit down and discuss the pros and cons of waiting to have sex until you’re older.’ “
The researchers are suggesting programs be set up to help mothers prevent early promiscuity.
The researchers believe schools start their abstinence programs too late.
One of the researchers said that she was shocked by the ages they were finding, and rightly so. I can’t imagine a child at 9, 10 or even 12 being the least bit prepared to have sex.
What do think of these numbers? What do think of this study? What can be done to help stop children, literally children, from having sex?