New study finds tweens rarely have sex; parents breathe sighs of relief

New study finds tweens rarely have sex; parents breathe sighs of relief

Sometimes I feel like the bearer of bad news, sharing information about things parents need to know, but would really rather not think about. Today, though, here's some good news: a new study shows that only a miniscule number of tweens are having sex. I know, you'd rather not think about tweens and sex at all, even if it is good news.

In the study Sexual Initiation, Contraceptive Use and Pregnancy Among Young Adolescents, to be published in the May issue of Pediatrics, authors Lawrence B. Finer and Jesse M. Philbin from the Guttmacher Institute, found that very few early adolescents are having sexual intercourse.

Lead author Finer said, "Policymakers and the media often sensationalize teen sexual behavior, suggesting that adolescents as young as 10 or 11 are increasingly sexually active. But the data just don't support that concern. Rather, we are seeing teens waiting longer to have sex, using contraceptives more frequently when they start having sex, and being less likely to become pregnant than their peers of past decades."

Here's the break down by age:

Age % of kids having sex
10 0.6
11 1.1
12 2.4

It is also worth noting that the authors found that of those tweens having sex, it is frequently involuntary and they make the point that coerced sex deserves attention. It absolutely does.

Concerning, though, is the finding that adolescents who initiated sex at 14 or younger were less likely to use contraceptives the first time that they had intercourse and they took longer to begin using a contraceptive method. If you needed a reason to discuss methods for preventing the spread of STDs and pregnancy, there you go.

And just because tweens aren't having sex does not mean that it's possible and even likely that kids will engage in intercourse while still living under your roof. (I know, I shuddered,too). Sexual activity really ramps up with older tweens. Here are the study's findings about the number of teens having sexual intercourse:

Age % of kids having sex
16 33
17 48
18 61
19 71

So, while the good news is that media reports of tweens doing the deed may be exaggerated, it doesn't mean that kids are not having sex. And this is why we as parents have to be talking about it with them now, as tweens, whether we like it or not.

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