by S. Gordon
….In two national surveys, investigators found that between 4% and 8% of boys reported having sex before they were 13. That number varied greatly depending on where the boys lived. In San Francisco, just 5% of boys said they had sex before 13, but in Memphis that number jumped to 25%.
Race and ethnicity also made a difference in whether or not a young person had an early sexual experience. Black males were most likely to have sex before 13, followed by Hispanic males.
….Bell, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, pointed out that talking about sex doesn’t encourage young people to have sex.
The average age that teens initiate sex is around 17, according to Bell, and that number hasn’t really changed in years. However, he said that the percentage of youths having early sex initiation (before 13) has been decreasing for more than a decade.
And that decline is good news, because having sex before 13 is linked to increased sexual risks, such as having multiple sexual partners and sexually transmitted infections, the editorial said. It may also be linked to substance abuse, dating violence and low school achievement.
….Fifty-five percent of the young men said they wanted the sexual experience, and 37% said they had mixed feelings about it. Eight percent said they didn’t want it to happen.
Parental education appeared to have an impact. Boys with mothers who had a college degree were 69% less likely to have sex before 13.
As to why there are such variations in early sex rates, Lindberg said, “Adolescent males’ attitudes and values about their sexuality and masculinity are influenced by the social context of their community.
“Our findings reflect that where you live exposes you to different social norms about manhood,” she added. “The variation across settings means that programs for young people’s development and health need to be tailored and responsive to the communities they are in.”