Are babies really having babies? Not so, it turns out! A new study shows that it is very rare for tweens between ages 10 to 12 to be sexually active.
In fact, among boys and girls, only 0.6 percent of 10-year-olds, 1.1 percent of 11-year-olds and 2.4 percent of 12-year-olds have had sex. Furthermore, sex among preteens is often involuntary—a whopping 62 percent of girls who were sexually active by age 10 say that their first encounter was coerced. Fifty percent of those who had sex by age 11 also said they were coerced, as did 23 percent of those who had sex by age 12.
Despite the prevailing notion amongst Americans that most young teens are having sex, at no time in the past 50 years did more than 10 percent of girls have sex by their 14th birthday, says Lawrence Finer, lead author of the study and director of domestic research for the Guttmacher Institute.
Although the number of preteens who have sex is small and incidence of pregnancy among girls age 12 or younger is minuscule, Finer says that the data showing sex is often coerced is an additional public health concern.
Parents can do their part by starting at home. It's easy to put off that "birds and the bees" talk, but learning about sexuality is a normal part of child development. And answering your child's questions in an honest, age-appropriate way is the best strategy to cultivate a healthy relationship to sex. Click here for our tips on what to say to your kids about sex ... and when.
At what age do you plan to discuss sex with your children? Leave a comment and let us know.