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Fourteen and Younger: The Sexual Behaviour of Young Adolescents

NCJ Number
Bill Albert, Sarah Brown, Christine M. Flanigan
Date Published
May 2003
29 pages
This booklet summarizes a full report based on seven papers that used six different datasets (three national and three local ones) in examining the sexual behavior of youth in the United States ages 14 and under for the period 1996-2000.
The summary indicates that nearly one in five adolescents has had sex before he/she is 15 years old; however, being sexually experienced does not necessarily mean that young adolescents are having sex regularly. Contraceptive use among young adolescents is relatively low, explaining why one in seven sexually experienced 14-year-old girls report having been pregnant. Dating in general and dating someone older in particular greatly increase the chances of having sex, and many in this age group report dating or being in romantic relationships. Many young adolescents reported being pressured to have sex, with one survey indicating that 6 percent of boys and 5 percent of girls reported that they had been forced to have sex. In addition, sexually experienced young adolescents are engaging in other risky behavior, such as smoking cigarettes, using drugs, drinking alcoholic beverages, and engaging in delinquent behavior. Although many young adolescents are sexually experienced they know very little about sex. Parents and youth provide mixed reports about family communication about sex, and they apparently have misperceptions about each other’s attitudes and behaviors. The data used in the studies summarized does not provide much information on the extent to which young adolescents engage in oral sex and other sexual behavior. This summary concludes that there is substantial evidence that many young adolescents are having sex, indicating there is good reason to be concerned about youth having sex at an early age. Consequently, parents should be concerned about their young teens dating in general and dating someone much older in particular. 14 references