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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Sexual Risk Patterns in Junior High

A recent article in the Journal of School Health reported the prevalence of vaginal, oral, and anal intercourse among 1,279 urban, public middle school students from 10 middle schools in a large southeastern school district. The participants were on average 12.5 years old and 57.3% were female, 43.6% were black, and 41.8% were Hispanic. The students completed surveys and self-interviews.

Brace yourself, the study reported that:
  • 12% of the students had engaged in vaginal sex;
  • 8% in oral sex; and
  • 7% in anal sex.
This study also reported that youth living with only one parent were more likely to have initiated sexual intercourse. In addition, 25% of the sexually active students reported four or more sexual partners, putting them at a huge risk for sexually transmitted infections (STI), including HIV, and unwanted pregnancy.

These findings are important because we know that the earlier a person starts having any kind sex, the more likely it is that they will use alcohol or drugs before engaging in sex, not use a condom, have a higher number of lifetime sexual partners, and experience an unwanted pregnancy or STI.

Given these results, even if we as parents, educators, and clinicians are a little squeamish about bringing sex up with middle school-aged youth, someone better be doing it!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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