When to Have ‘The Talk’ — Survey Shows 1 in 13 Boys are Having Sex Before the Age of 13

having sex

We know the importance of having the sex talk, but a new study suggests THE talk may need to happen much sooner than parents have planned.

A study released this week in JAMA Pediatrics found that 3.6% to 7.6% of boys and young men say they are having sex before age 13 – or 1 in 13 boys on average.

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BEFORE the age of 13. And that percentage varies greatly depending on demographic.

The study included surveys from two large databases. One came from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System from 2011, 2013 and 2015 where almost 20,000 male students in grades 9-12 completed questionnaires. The other came from The National Survey of Family Growth, which collected data from almost 8,000 in-person interviews from males ages 15-24 in 2006 to 2015.

Though the statistics varied, the study’s findings are staggering.

“Despite similar sexual activity rates among male and female adolescents, males are more likely to have their first sexual intercourse before age 13 years,” the study reports.

Among those surveyed:

  • In San Francisco, 5% of boys reported having sex before age 13. In Memphis, that number was 25%.
  • Boys whose mothers have a college degree or other type of higher education level were statistically significantly less likely to report having sex before age 13.
  • Black males were more likely to have sex before 13, followed by Hispanic males. Compared to black males, white males were 79% less likely to have sex before age 13, and Hispanic males were 73% less likely.

According to the CDC, the average age when boys and girls have sex for the first time is 17.

Researchers behind the study, Dr. David Bell, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Samantha Garbers, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, are calling for more conversations in both school and health care settings about boys developing healthy relationships at an early age.

“It is critical to engage young men in self-reflection about the real pressures U.S. society places on them that affect their overall health and well-being,” they wrote in an accompanying study editorial, “Any discussions associated with pressures should include topics of ‘what it means to be a man’ and soliciting and giving consent.”

They also believe age-appropriate sexual education among parents is imperative to raising young boys to understand sex and all that comes with it.

When first-time sex comes earlier for boys and girls, studies show a greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases, binge drinking problems, and challenges with school.

Parents, we can’t afford to wait when it comes to talking to our kids about sex.


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Bri Lamm
Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras. Follow me on Facebook!