Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Low-income Kids Report First Sexual Intercourse At 12 Years Of Age In New National Study

ScienceDaily (Aug. 19, 2009) — 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."


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."

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