The notion that the youngest adolescents – ages 10 to 12 – are more sexually active today than in the past is greatly exaggerated, says a new report in the April issue of Pediatrics.
It finds that among both boys and girls, only 0.6 percent of 10-year-olds, 1.1 percent of 11-year-olds and 2.4 percent of 12-year-olds have had sex, and the incidence of pregnancy among girls age 12 or younger "is minuscule."
The study also finds that sex among very young adolescents is frequently involuntary; 62 percent of girls who had sex by age 10 say their first encounter was coerced. Coercion was also cited by 50 percent of those who had sex by age 11 and 23 percent who had sex by age 12.
By middle adolescence, sexual activity is more common among teens but only for a minority (5.4 percent of 13-year-olds; 11 percent of 14-year-olds; 20 percent of 15-year-olds; 33 percent of 16-year-olds ). Although more than half of older teens (ages 17 to 19) have had sex, 25 percent of both males and females have not had sex by age 20.