HomeHealth & Behavior

Teens and sex by the numbers

We've sifted through the scary stats to get the lowdown on sexual behavior trends among teens. Here's what you need to know to help your child. (Hint: Start talking with them now!)

By Lauren Shanley

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Why you should chat ASAP

1 in 10 — Sexually active male teens had their first sexual encounter before age 13.

Not only are teens who start having sex early less prepared for the considerable physical and emotional challenges associated with an intimate relationship, they're also more likely to have a larger number of sexual partners. (Another disturbing finding: Girls who were younger than 13 at the time of their first sexual encounter tended to have a partner who was, on average, five or more years older.)

Of the teens who reported having their first sexual encounter before high school, 20 percent of boys and more than 50 percent of girls reported having four or more sexual partners in the past year. Not surprisingly, increasing the number of partners makes teens more susceptible to contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and getting pregnant.

 Photo credit: carf

Comments from readers

"I agree with most of the things in this article, I've always talked to my son (now 9 years old) about love & sexuality. Since an early age I've kept it age appropiate of course (about hugging, what girl he thinks is cute or do/does he want to hold her hand etc.) and especially what his friends are doing and what he feels about it all! He will soon be 10 years old and he now comes to me (unprompted) with questions about how me and his Dad met and the littl things like carrying a girls books for her or holding open a door open for her, I feel good about starting this dialogue with my son and encourage all parents to, let your kids know early on that they have a safe and knowledgeable person to talk to besides their peers and the internet and sometimes be prepared to say I won't tell your Dad or your Aunt (so & so) because sometimes when he know's (or at least thinks (wink wink)) he's sworn me to secrecy that helps too! "