Study:25 percent low-income kids having sex; average age 12

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?

132 comments Add your comment

Black Girl

August 19th, 2009
11:34 am

Blackberry Cobbler Obama is the first “bi-racial” president reared by his “white” family. Get your facts straight. He only calls himself black because of how White America sees him.

motherjanegoose

August 19th, 2009
11:35 am

@ white guy…I might be sarcastic but I am neither racist nor communist.

I apologize profusely if I came across as racist and have no idea what you are talking about…someone please tell me.

I DO have friends represented in various race and religious groups. I also know people in 46 states, different slices of America. I enjoy all types of folks who are contributing members of society.

Is it because I do not think anyone should keep producing more children just because they are able to do so, even when they have no means to support them? Well so be it. I am tired of folks claiming their rights when they will not claim their responsibility.

Anyone who is able to pay for their own brood can have as many kids as they want. Anyone who is asking for my tax dollars to to cover their children’s expenses is not welcome IMHO. YES there are exceptions in today’s economy.

I gladly help those who NEED help….not those who are too lazy to do anything or circumvent the system. There are Bible verses about laziness….and not many about the government handing out everything to those who will not work.

motherjanegoose

August 19th, 2009
11:39 am

Thank you Denise….I am always baffled when my clients tell me how much they enjoy my presentations but many here try to rip me to shreds…who knows?

Good thing I remember who butters my bread.

Outta here…I have work to do….

White Guy

August 19th, 2009
11:45 am

I like that RickyDToo

false

August 19th, 2009
11:46 am

The headline is completely inconsistent with the content of this article. The results are bad enough without exaggerating.

KDMack

August 19th, 2009
11:49 am

Why are are people who comment on the AJC blogs just outright ignorant. Please realize that you live in the south or relocated to the south; therefore, you keep relating low income to black, hispanics, etc. If you would take time to travel and learn there are lot’s of low income whites who reside in states where minority population is less than 5%.

We need to realize that all kids are having sex doesn’t matter the demographics, so stop pointing fingers at people who might not attend your child’s private school. I have facts and proof that “surburbia” kids are having sex (oral & anal)avoiding pregnancy. We really need to take a look at what’s on television and the lyrics to most top 40 radio play. The problem is larger than anything parent(s) could ever imagine; however, poor people have less resources. We took prayer out of schools not allowed to displine in some cases both parent(s) working kids are just learing about life through You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, Internet, Text Messages, Emails, etc. There is just way too much racial tension on this blog OMG! It doesn’t matter what color you are it’s the content of your character.

The Truth

August 19th, 2009
11:53 am

This is a sensitive subject and I always enjoy reading the responses. At the end of the day, there are still a lot of racist people in Atlanta. And if they are not racist then they are classicist. That is good to know. So that my children will not be mislead into believing that we have moved past that point in American history. We haven’t. And on the flip side, there are still a lot of black people that are angry at the revisionist history that we are feed so that white people can feel good about there atrocities. Yet the expect that we will never bring those same atrocities up in open forum. And when we do they say, ‘why can’t you get over that already?’ I will not got down that road.

But the bottom line is that it will require a movement from within the community to change perceptions regarding sex, love and lust and there needs to be a corporate agenda within the black community to reduce and eliminate this type of behavior at such an early age. Children need to enjoy being children because it is such a short time in there lives. Our goal should be to help them by being honest with them early and by preventing this through constructive activities with organizations and clubs in the low income urban communities, and churches. We owe it to our future to help break these vicious cycles.

White Guy

August 19th, 2009
11:53 am

One question remains, if America solves all the poverty in this country, who will carry the burden for the wealthy?

[...] 12. Educated mothers can help reduce early promiscuity the study found. Read the original here: Study:Low-income kids starting sex on average at 12 | A Blog for … Categories: SEX Tags: accept-her, are-starting, average-at-age, for-her, help-reduce, [...]

White Guy

August 19th, 2009
12:10 pm

The answer is, it can not be done. As far as the children having sex at an early age goes, that percentage has been around forever. I wish there was something that could be done, but somethings don’t change. The best thing everyone can do is try to educate thier own kids and hope they will lose the battle to peer pressure, TV, the internet, and musc videos.

White Guy

August 19th, 2009
12:12 pm

The answer is, it can not be done. As far as the children having sex at an early age goes, that percentage has been around forever. I wish there was something that could be done, but somethings don’t change. The best thing everyone can do is try to educate thier own kids and hope they will “NOT” lose the battle to peer pressure, TV, the internet, and musc videos.

Jesse's Girl

August 19th, 2009
12:51 pm

Hey REG…I didn’t call those events in history anything. As a matter of fact…I didn’t mention anything you touched on. I was relaying an event I witnessed in person. Young KIDS of different races acting inappropriately. So back the frick off….

Mrs. O

August 19th, 2009
12:52 pm

I am not surprised. During the last week of school, a three year-old at a preschool in downtown College Park that I worked at acted out sexually, modeling behavior she got from home. On Monday, she pulled up her shirt and told a boy in aftercare to lick her. The school director waited two days later before delegating the job of telling the girl’s mom to the senior aftercare provider. She says she wanted time to gather the facts (despite having the incident report) and figure out how to address the situation; I suspect the director wanted to avoid a sensitive subject since she felt sorry for the girl who comes from a broken home and she wanted to avoid embarrassing the girl’s grandmother who works at the school.
It turns out the girl’s grandmother told the girl’s mom about the disturbing incident the same day it happened. The senior aftercare provider told the boy’s parents two days later but the school had no working number for the girl’s mom or dad. Incidentally, the teacher in charge of telling the mother about the incident ran into the mother at a Wayfield Grocery store 2 days later and tried to initiate a discussion in the aisle; the mother dismissed the teacher saying her mother told her what happened and offered the classic defense saying she didn’t know where her daughter was getting this from. The boy’s parents were naturally distraught and considered pulling their son out of this school; after all, the school is located at a Methodist church—the last place you’d expect this to go on, assuming parents who bring their kids here are responsible Christians. The boy’s parents asked that their child not be in aftercare with the little girl after finding out what happened. To add insult to injury, the girl’s mother never tried to reach out to apologize to the boy’s parents for what happened.
Two other incidents also occurred; the last Wednesday of school in aftercare as snack was being prepared, the girl pulled her shirt down to her breast and asked about 3 male classmates near her if they were her boyfriend. The senior aftercare provider did not want the task of being the messenger again and told the junior aftercare provider to dismiss what happened instead of writing up an incident report. Then Friday, as the girl waited in the girl’s restroom for her teacher to return with a pair of undies after wetting herself , another teacher in the restroom with her saw her lift her skirt and shake her hips side to side, exposing herself to a male classmate standing outside the girl’s restroom. I asked the girl where she was getting this behavior from and she replied that her mom got on top of her dad and that when she took a bath, her dad would go in her mom’s room (her parents had a troubled marriage and lived together off and on). Not wanting the behavior to continue, influence other kids or run away the full price paying families at the under-resourced and under-funded school (the girl and her brother paid half-price under the grandmother’s employee discount), I emailed the girl’s mom about her child’s behavior over the last week to let her mother know what had happened and what her daughter said about where she learned the behavior from. The girl’s mom was offended, threatening to pull the girl out (which she was likely going to do, and ended up doing, anyway due to financial problems so that the girl could attend a free lottery pre-K program). The girl’s ghetto dad came to the school cursing saying “these mother f—— should punish the boy like they punished his daughter”, threatened there’d be consequences and that the school would do anything to keep his mother-in-law (the girl’s grandmother who works in the school) happy. He was right; I got reprimanded by the director who said I lacked compassion and was a liability to the school. I was terminated.
Undoubtedly, this child has lots of issues at home but she is not the first, nor the last. This is something that no one but her parents can control. (Since I left, the girl went to school telling the kids her dad went to jail; her grandmother told her not to tell her dad’s business.) The good news is that the playing field can be evened for kids “with issues” if schools and families are responsible enough to have the same expectations for behavior that good schools and families should have for all of its students. It is the job of schools and families to empower kids with “issues” to be as good as, if not better than, kids without issues.
In this case, I understand why schools and kids are in the shape they are in with administrators so quick to sweep things under the rug and overanalyze why things happen. Not handling problems head on leads to more problems and enables kids and parents to do be irresponsible. Kids are losing their innocence at such young ages nowadays. It’s poor parenting and some public school system’s culture of feeling sorry for kids from impoverished and broken homes that contributes to their victim’s mentality and sense of entitlement. This is a disservice to the kids and only breeds a society of hypersexual dependents.
Unfortunately, the innocence of several children was compromised and that’s something they can’t get back. It’s all because one child’s parents aren’t raising her responsibly and that has the potential to affect other people’s kids, including mine, if we’re not careful. I just hope this girl does not go on to get a baby out of wedlock at a young age only to end up struggling and living with her grandmother like her dad and mother.

motherjanegoose

August 19th, 2009
1:31 pm

Mrs. O….OH YES and you are brave to share these incidents….thanks! These are the kinds of things I hear about all the time! The actions are sad but the reactions ( or lack of) are just as bad.

JJ

August 19th, 2009
1:45 pm

Damn Theresa, you opened a can of worms today……..

Heather

August 19th, 2009
1:50 pm

Middle class white kids are having sex too, but their parents get abortions for them (or their girlfriends) so no one knows and they go on with their lives. Poor kids have a tendency to be forced to live with their mistakes, either through economics or other ways.

Mrs. O

August 19th, 2009
2:05 pm

Poor, middle-class or rich— kids are probably having sex in greater numbers at earlier ages than this “study” of 1,000 kids lets on. I’m always skeptical of so-called representative samples…The bottom line is there are too many welfare families that make babies out of wedlock that they can’t afford to take care of on their own. I was behind a tattooed baby mama with no wedding ring in line at Publix. She held up the line redeeming all of those welfare milk formula vouchers. It’s so frustrating to see people making irresponsible decisions to make babies that they can’t care for on their own who go on to share their “genetic code”…

YUKI

August 19th, 2009
2:06 pm

Oh yes, that’s it, middle class white kids all have abortions. Give me a break. I was a middle class white kid years ago, and I didn’t HAVE to have an abortion because my parents taught me how to be responsible and my religion taught me morals. That comment is one of the most ridiculous things I have read in a while.

mf

August 19th, 2009
2:07 pm

The problem with this is not video games,television,computer,parents etc. The reason these kids are having sex so early is because the schools start teaching them sex education in grade 3.Unbelievable. They started this about 15 years ago and kids that are now in their 20’s said they didnt know what sex was until they were taught in school. Once they were taught then they were curious.By grade 5 the school has taught them everything about sex and explained that if you wear a condom your 99% safe from deseases.
Why have the teachers become parents ,it should be up to the parents to teach their kids and not the schools. How dare they take away the innocence of our children at such a young age and then blame the parents when the kids start having sex early.If you do not know about sex you won’t do it. Just because a child can say the word sex does not mean they know what it means,they are just repeating a word they’ve heard many times.

Mrs. O

August 19th, 2009
2:17 pm

Heather, abortions aren’t the issue. At least the middle class and rich don’t bring kids into the world that they can’t feed, educate, clothe, house and pay health care for on their own. Poor kids do tend to have babies they can’t afford. In fact, if fewer poor people would have kids we probably wouldn’t be having a national debate about free, universal health care now.

Also, nobody forces poor kids to do anything. They force themselves to live with their mistakes when they force themselves to lay down and have unprotected sex and make a baby. Conception is a choice, an avoidable choice and I don’t feel sorry for kids or adults who screw up. Life is about accepting sole responsibility for one’s actions. Kids having sex is old news, it’s the consequences that matter most.

Jesse's Girl

August 19th, 2009
2:26 pm

The point is this….condoms are free at any clinic you go to. Its a matter of pride for most of these kids. They simply don’t think they should have to use a condom. No..we cannot stop kids of any race or socio-economic background from having sex. But we should be able to educate the crap out of all of them. Pass out the locations of health clinics….have local stores give out condoms. Whatever…just cover your junk so my money doesn’t have to go to another out of wedlock child. Unless I so choose.

jct

August 19th, 2009
2:30 pm

@MRS O…the little girl you are describing is showing classic signs of sexual abuse. I know you have been terminated but did your facility have any way of getting DFACS involved. This is not normal behavior for a child this age.

There have been many extreme examples given on this blog today.

The bottom line is we live in a society where sex sells. It is truly unfortunate that these studies don’t speak to the positive first- 75% not having sex before 16, now what are we going to do for the rest?

If you are not valued you will have sex younger. Period.

I find it quite funny that in the economy that folks want to denegrate poor folks. I have friends who when their child was born could afford all the luxuries but 1 year later they both got laid off. Without WIC it would have been hard to feed their growing child. The husband is now employed but the wife is still searching (again 1 year later). They used the system as the stop gap.

Now, I KNOW that there is a system of poverty but many seem to forgot there is a time limit on benefits if you are not working or in school. This has been the case for almost 10 years in Georgia.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 19th, 2009
2:34 pm

Hey Guys — I have been out all morning with a dead battery in my mini-van (covered by warranty — awesome!) There have been some complaints about my headline and I wanted to tell you guys the process I went though on the headline. (It’s harder than it looks.)

Originally, I pulled from the Iowa State headline and tried to shorten to fit one line of space.
First thing this morning I had “Study: Low income kids started sex at 12 on overage”

One of regulars questioned the head. I am terrible with stats and was literally running about the door to get my car fixed so I took off the on average. I knew it was technically true to say that the study showed low income kids were starting sex by 12 — so that was the second head and the one that has stood for most of the day. (Looking back I actually think my first head was more accurate than the second — although neither was untrue.)

When I got home and read through all the comments I saw multiple complaints — While I do not think my headline was inaccurate, I also didn’t want people to think I was trying to sensationalize the news so after several rewrites I have a new headline:

Study:25 percent low-income kids having sex; average age 12

This is a very specific headline that is very ugly to an editor’s eye. But I don’t want people to think I am trying to sensationalize the news.

Hopefully that gives some insight into what editors consider as they are writing headlines for stories. We are always trying to be accurate with the information and represent the story truthfully. We are also working with space constraints and hopefully can make it interesting enough to draw the reader in without misleading him/her.

JJ

August 19th, 2009
2:39 pm

Just look at they way these kids are dressing……short shorts, mini skirts, push up bras, etc. And that’s in Elementary school……

It is up to US as parents, to educate our children about sex, not the schools, not the grandparents, not the siblings, but the PARENTS. It is our job to educate our kids and guide them through life. I don’t know why parents are so afraid to talk to their kids about sex. I have had open dialogue with my kid about sex since she was 10 years old…….

It shouldn’t be scary, and you shouldn’t think they are too young. Give them age appropriate information that they can process at any age. Open the talking early, dont’ wait till they are in high school……..

And sex sells. Just watch the shows these kids are watching. There is sex in cartoons, Hanna Montanna, etc. Just about every show on tv has sexual references in them. It goes over the kids’ heads, but not the parents.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS!!!!!! IF you don’t, the little boy down the street will, or the kids on the bus will. Some will even show you what sex is………

Do you want other kids telling your kids about sex, or do you want to be the one to tell them?

Mrs. O

August 19th, 2009
2:54 pm

I don’t doubt that the girl was abused, or neglected (her lunches were often pitiful and her clothes dirty). The director claimed it was normal behavior but agreed it was not acceptable. I was the most convenient scapegoat and I can live with that. Of course, the school would have to handle that suspicions about abuse but would likely not call DFACS since the girl’s grandmother works in the baby room; the church board just wants to stay out of the news and keep the doors open with whomever will come.

I am misunderstand if I come across as someone putting down poor people. My point is too many cash strapped folk decide to have babies, knowing they are cash-strapped. And they decide to keep having more babies, knowing it will take tax payers’ dollars to help them keep their heads above water. Mamas and daddies should be able to pay all of the expenses, or not make babies. It’s not fair to see irresponsible people taking advantage of tax dollars, no matter how long or short the welfare time limit is.

HB

August 19th, 2009
3:14 pm

Thanks for the new headline, Theresa! The title bar still has the original inaccurate title (sorry, but as a stats person, I have to disagree with you on its accuracy), so that may need to be fixed in the code. As part of my job, I also write for journals and blogs and often find coming up with title/headlines to be the toughest part of an article, so I feel your pain on having to settle on a clunky, yet accurate headline, but sometimes it’s the best a writer can do. :)

Mrs. O

August 19th, 2009
3:14 pm

I don’t doubt the little girl was abused by a cousin or friend, maybe her own age. It could have happened while playing “house” or “mommy and daddy” for all I know. I know her lunches were also pitiful and the director wanted to give her free food from the church pantry which would have been fair if she offered free lunch to the full paying kids, too. (What she should have done was send a list of Bright from the Start nutritional guidelines home to empower the mom (who should have known better since she is supposedly a preschool teacher in Buckhead.) It’s unlikely the church board that runs the school would have a DFACS discussion; they just want to keep the doors open with whoever will come and stay out of the news.

JJ

August 19th, 2009
3:37 pm

Um Theresa, a car battery is probably the EASIEST Thing to replace. Unhook the two cables, lift the battery out, put the new one it, attach cables – 10 minutes maybe…….total cost $50.00. AND your husband should have told you that. No need to run to the dealer…..they only rip you off.

There you go, Powder Puff Mechanics 101…..

first time poster

August 19th, 2009
3:43 pm

Mrs. O – that is pathetic…you should have called even if the “school” didn’t want to. You have a legal responsibility let alone a moral one to do so. You let that little girl down, just like everyone else.

Heather

August 19th, 2009
3:47 pm

Upper class and middle class kids are also having sex and get pregnant. The difference is their parents cough up for an abortion so that no one has to know. Poor kids usually end up keeping the baby due to financial reasons (can’t afford the abortion) or moral (the fact that they feel they need to live up their mistake).

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 19th, 2009
3:48 pm

Hey JJ — First off we are not handy — but I really felt like there were some other electrical problems at play — My car wouldn’t crank after you had doors opened — and it happened intermittently over a year so very odd —- I’m still not completely convinced there aren’t other problems but with a new battery will know if it happens again — I do have a good factory warranty on the car and replaced for free. Also noticed some of trim coming off that I have to go back forth but is also covered by warranty– so mostly just my time.

[...] admin wrote an intriguing post today onHere’s a little tasterIt was sickening to see some of these KIDS….and they were, 12-13-14…behaving in the ways I witnesses. I had a conversation about it with the studio owner…who is black. He said thats just how it is in certain neighborhoods. No daddys….little money…no attention school and grades. ….. Renee -you commented about people’s relationship to God helping the situation, but SO MANY of these folks are “deeply religious” but that doesn’t seem to apply to screwing. … [...]