While many studies have shown that there has been a decline in the number of teens who are choosing to have sex over the years, a recent study suggests that even fewer teens are sexually active than previously thought, and the number of younger teens that are sexually active is much lower than many suspected. This suggests that many younger teens are putting off having sex for longer.
The study, done by the Guttmacher Institute, found that sex among young teens is quite rare. In participants who were born between 1984 and 1993, only one percent of girls reported that they had sex before the age of 11. The number climbs to two percent of girls who were 12 and under and for girls that were 13, only five percent reported having had sex.
According to Lawrence B. Finer, PhD, of the Guttmacher Institute, common worries that young teens are engaging in sex are totally unfounded. In fact, the pregnancy rate among girls this age is amazingly small. Some credit better sex education programs to the small group of young teens having sex, but others just think that they aren’t at that stage of life yet.
The study continues to show promise, however, as it goes on to state that even older teens aren’t having as much sex as previously thought. Data between 2006 and 2010 suggests that only 19 percent of girls who are 15, and 32 percent of girls who are 16 reported being sexually active. The trend seems to be that many teens are putting off having sex for longer than their elders.
About 26 percent of women who were 20 had reported that they hadn’t yet had sex.
Another positive trend that researchers found was that many more of the teens who are sexually active are using contraception, which ultimately helps to reduce sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy in this group.
The disturbing trend is that in many of the younger teens surveyed, when there is sexual activity, it is due to being coerced, or is entirely non-consensual, and many consider this trend to be worrisome. In fact, in 10 year old girls who had sex, 62 percent said that it was not consensual. The number went down to 50 percent in 11 year old girls and dropped to 23 percent at age 12. In younger teens that were 13 and 14, an estimated seven percent reported that their “first time” was not consensual. For teens that were 17 and older, fewer than five percent reported that their first time was forced.
The bottom line for many experts is that teaching younger teens about sex, and the risks of being sexually active at such an early age is essential to keeping these numbers promisingly low. No studies thus far have shown that earlier sex education programs encourage children to become sexually active earlier on.