Date: October 20, 2019
“They are as likely to rate the sex as “wanted” as boys who have sex later.
Researchers Lindberg and associates note that young people having sex before age 13 delivers the message that we need “early, inclusive, and comprehensive sex education as well as sexual and reproductive health care to male children and adolescents.” Yet, the “developmental needs and pathways to healthy trajectories for young males remain unknown.”
1. African-American (19 percent) boys were more likely than Hispanic (9 percent) or White (4 percent) boys to report early sex, with an 8 percent average for the total sample. The higher rate for black youths held regardless of sociodemographic variables.
2. Boys whose mothers had at least a college degree were less likely to have sex before age 13.
3. In terms of wanting intercourse, the responses were as follows:
(a) Nine percent reported, “I really didn’t want it to happen at the time.”
(b) Thirty-seven percent reported, “I had mixed feelings—part of me wanted it to happen at the time, and part of me didn’t.”
(c) Fifty-five percent reported, “I really wanted it to happen at the time.”
4. These numbers were not significantly different from those who had first intercourse at age 13 or older.
5. The first sexual partner was usually a friend.
I would suggest that another scenario is that the opportunity for sex simply presented itself as a realistic possibility; he went for it, and, now older, the boy says he wanted the experience—whether for pleasure, to prove something, for bragging rights, or some other idiosyncratic reason.
1. We need comprehensive sex education that is culturally informed and inclusive, beginning many years before puberty and before a youth’s first sexual encounter.
2. Many adults, professional or not, stigmatize and pathologize early sex, which likely causes more harm than good.
3. If early sex is perceived as fulfilling the dictates of traditional masculinity, then we need to develop a more inclusive notion of masculinity.
4. As the authors suggest, health education and counseling services should be readily available for young males who experience unwanted sexual encounters.
5. Given that so many of the boys wanted sex at an early age, we need to ask about their views and their perspective about the encounter(s). As the authors write, “This finding underscores the need to include young men’s views when identifying and interpreting their sexual and developmental trajectories.”