Skip to comments.Low-income kids report first sexual intercourse at 12 years old in new ISU study
Posted on 08/12/2009 7:12:14 PM PDT by iowamark
AMES, Iowa -- As a new mother herself, Brenda Lohman admits to being shocked by the results of a new study she co-authored. It found that among nearly 1,000 low-income families in three major cities, 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.
"So if 12 years was the average age here, that meant that some kids were starting at 10 or younger," said 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."
"Those people who say that kids don't have sex at that young of age should think again," she said. "Definitely the age is the most shocking thing about this study."
Tina Jordahl, a former Iowa State HDFS and public policy graduate student who is now a market research specialist with Hospice of Central Iowa, collaborated with Lohman on the study. It analyzes data from the "Welfare, Children and Families: A Three-City Study" -- a six-year longitudinal investigation of low-income families living in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio. Their paper, titled "A biological analysis of risk and protective factors associated with early sexual intercourse of young adolescents," was posted online in the Children and Youth Services Review and will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal.
Interview data for the study was first collected in 1999 on youth between the ages of 10 and 14, and again in 2001. Lohman says she also has data collected in 2006 from the same subjects, who were between 16 and 20 by that time.
Boys having sex earlier, more often than girls 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 and were also more likely to experience sexual debut (20 percent to 14 percent) between the two years when the first two waves of data were collected.
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
"The ages [of sexual debut] are a bit younger than the national samples, but not alarmingly so," she said.
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 authors report that periods of instability in family structure and welfare use serve as risk factors for early sexual activity. 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."
For that reason, the researchers propose allotting public funding to increase maternal education as a way to reduce early sexual promiscuity among their children.
Juvenile deliquency increases early sexual activity The study also found the youths' involvement in delinquent acts drastically increases the chances of early sexual activity.
Because of the gender differences in sexual debut, the authors also urge more gender-specific prevention programs that are implemented at earlier ages, especially among high risk populations.
"It may be that boys and girls, starting at younger ages, should have these programs that are designed separately by gender before they're moved back together over time," Lohman said. "And yes, they must start much, much younger than they do now. You have to start before those young kids -- 10 or even younger -- start becoming sexually active."
She says the current political climate in Washington may be right for those types of programs to be developed.
"The Bush administration concentrated on abstinence education programs for all families across the spectrum of income, and Obama is definitely focusing on sexual education and prevention programs," said Lohman. "He's put a lot more money back into those programs that were stripped away during the Bush administration. And given his focus in other areas, he is concentrating on high-risk, low-income disadvantaged families as well."
Lohman is currently working on research to determine the relationship between obesity and teen sexuality. She hopes to publish results from that study within the year.
I think a lot of adults are in the dark about the extreme sexualization of America's teens.
Just so long as they’re using taxpayer funded condoms it’s all ok....
But it hasn't always been that way.
Or it could be that spiritual poverty often leads to physical poverty.
They probably are. I taught sex ed (9th graders) in TX for about 5 years starting in 2000. These kids thought they knew it all. Sadly, much of what they *knew* was not so.
I was concerned that too many people were losing their virginity as teenagers. However, this is not the way I hoped to reduce the problem.
I was concerned that too many people were losing their virginity as teenagers. However, this is not the way I hoped to reduce the problem.
School tells them to have sex, TV tells them to have sex, music tells them to have sex, movies tell them to have sex, freinds and “home boys” tell them to have sex, they don’t go to church and their parents don’t tell them anything.
Why would anyone be surprused?
These adults don’t watch TV?
These are the adults that don’t care if you ask me
I think anyone with half a brain isn’t confused or misinformed about kids having sex, especially those in that “low income” area.
Sure, the sexualization of America’s kids has been ongoing to anyone that bothered to notice. It ain’t new. But again, just because something is legal or encouraged doesn’t mean it’s happening at the level that is claimed doesn’t mean everyone is doing it. Ask any teen boy how often he’s getting laid and if he’s not lying, it’s not what most of these studies would claim. Sure, more girls are having or admitting to having sex, and it’s not as “shameful” as it once was, but keep in mind what demographic is being studied. This is not new.
It hasn’t always been so out in the open but it was happening decades ago (hell hundreds of years ago, too).
My oldest brother grew up in the 50s, was a teen in the late 50s and he had sex as a teen. It did happen back then and way before then. It wasn’t talked about.
I blame Clinton.
Kids from single homs tend to be left alone a lot more than those who don’t have single Mothers. Kids left with no supervision will find something to do!
That should be “single parent homes”
I guess we’re seeing the results of long term decline in religious faith and practice in strong families.
Kick God out of schools
Kick God out of the public square
Kick morality out of entertainment/media
Worship pedophiles as superstar “king of -————”
Give a rapist and sex-fiend freak two terms in the White House
Kick parents out of health care decisions for their minor children.
And what does it get you????
And one look at the little girls section of your local department store and you will assume that 98% of clothing designers are pedophiles - What I refer to as “hoochie momma” clothing fill the majority of shelves.
With a 5 year-old and a 3 year-old, I get rather frustrated when I am with the wife looking for clothes. You would think that the nation’s initial shock over such high-profile cases as the JonBenét Ramsey case would have turned on some lights of reason... but alas - the sexualization of children just gets worse. Any sexualization of a child is just wrong. So sad, but a picture of where we are going. It is the same sick and corrupt mentality that brings us the dominance of the liberals in politics.
And you know who’s fault it is? Everyone who calls themselves a “Christian” or who even claims to have morals - who buy the garbage anyway. How many million families in the US CLAIM to be Christian? As a pastor, I get so frustrated preaching about moral issues - then having children show up in some of this very garbage - or coming in “fashions” from soft-porn vendors like Abercrombie & Fitch who are some of the big players in not only sexualization of children (or do you turn a blind eye to the mostly naked, and often engaged in soem sort of sexual behavior so often used in their ads?), but also promote homosexual events and causes.
If every person claiming to be a “moral person”, or a Christian wouldn’t buy the junk - guess what - it would disappear, or be a lot less common.
But just like the garbage Hollywood gives us - wouldn’t be so much trash if folks didn’t buy it.
Things have really “progressed”.
I remember hearing a conversation among child evangelism workers back in the mid-70s who conducted after-school bible groups, etc. They were saying that the scuttlebutt among elementary school students in the inner city went something like this:
Q: What’s a virgin?
A: An ugly 6th grader.
Looks like we have “progressed” to where, nowadays, the answer might be “an ugly 3rd or 4th grader.
“the first time at age nine had fathered four children by the time he was 18.”
City water departments should add birth control to the water supply. To get the antidote: be married, have tax filings for 5 years, HS grad or GED.
Tired of paying for this waste of humanity, and I know it is not the fault of the children, but the “adults” have to take responsibility, NOT just the taxpayers.
Pingin’ m’ homie in da hood.
My daughter is now 15 and very modest. When out shopping with her I would not even look in the door of an Abercrombie and Fitch store and told her why. You should see the look on the face of the local salespeople in the mall when shopping for clothes. When they would show me a rack of clothes, I would say “apparently you misunderstood me. I have a beautiful young girl, not a slut”. They were speechless.
I am lucky my child has chosen to be modest, but I hope I have had some influence on that. And I hope a few salesladies thought about what I said.
That is a great line. I'll use it when my daughter turns 13 in the year 2023.
It's always been that way.
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?
Marriage and family produces conservatives.
Single motherhood and divorce produces liberal voters.
So what exactly would be a "pro" of having sexual intercourse at the age of 12?
Well, these folks are "experts", obviously highly educated, so they wouldn't dare make a strong judgment about it. They might feel it is "enlightened" and "empowering" or something. They might also take comfort in spreading their hedonistic lifestyle. It would validate their own stupid choices. You know, the way baby boomers excuse rap music because their own parents didn't like rock music. Or the drugs they took. And they turned out okay. Except for the herpes and the bastard children, of course.
Who knows what goes on in the mind of a liberal?
if they are in the dark, it's because they choose to be... i don't see how an adult cannot see it everywhere... even many so-called good, conservative and Christian parents allow their children to watch televisions show and movies that are not appropriate for their ages...
even allowing their children to become emotionally involved with the opposite sex at young ages... i find it shocking... on a side note, i'm sure a father figure is missing from the homes of the children in the study...
Unfortunately, you will need it long before she turns thirteen. You should see the dresses for 8 and 9 year olds! Its a disgrace.
Dealing with four daughters myself (17 1/2, 15, 12 (almost 13) & 11) — I’m just glad they LOVE thrift stores, and retro clothes. LOL My daughters are horrified at the way some girls dress — it was way worse when we lived in Denver (visible thongs everywhere, and girls who literally looked like “working girls” on the way to school!), but even here in “Dairyland” you see it as well on occasion.
Hubby and I were in our local video store last week and some poor girl was there making a total fool of herself (and mom didn’t even seem to notice). There was some marketing thing that played clips of some annoying song, and the girl repeatedly pressed the button and proceeded to do some pretty provocative dance moves IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MAIN AISLE OF THE STORE!
It didn’t help matters at ALL that she was wearing high-heeled (wedge) sandals that she couldn’t even walk properly in (saw her twist her ankle 3 times!), and short shorts, and a very nice top — kind of gauzy & bohemian inspired — but it wasn’t for a girl of her age! My hubby and I guessed her age at about 11-12 yo.
We felt so sorry for the girl, because you just KNOW what’s going to happen to her someday soon — used and abused — or perhaps she already has been... And we were angry with the mother because not only did she not care that her daughter was dressing like a slut, but she didn’t care that her daughter was dancing provocatively in front of about 20 people in the store — most of them middle-aged men!
I thank GOD that my girls have not only chosen to dress appropriately (with my husband’s guidance regarding length of skirts, and how tight their jeans are! LOL), but they are also very conservative on their outlook regarding sex and marriage — I can’t stress enough what sitting down and explaining all the reasons WHY sex before marriage is a bad idea, and doing so BEFORE they are in a position to need to deal with it (along with explaining ALL of the medical stuff and answering any questions they might have no matter how embarrassing it may be at first — I wish my Mom had spoken to me, but she was “old-school” where you just didn’t talk about that stuff).
This is really sad, but I do remember hearing figures like this about... gosh, I guess it was about 15 years ago or so. Some study they did I think in Chicago.
I also recall discussions about the growth hormones in milk and how it causes girls to mature at an earlier time. The age of a girl’s first cycle has dropped dramatically. It wouldn’t be too strange I don’t think to find a correlation between some of these things as well.
Other people mentioned no father figure in the home, and that is a HUGE factor — especially for girls.