Troubling New Research About Tweens and Sex

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Troubling New Research About Tweens and Sex

Recent research by the University of Texas reveals risky sexual behaviors by middle school students in a large southeastern U.S. urban public school district. Studies such as these are noteworthy, yet because they are limited in geographic scope, it's not always a clear jump to the conclusion that even if the information is reliable (in the past it's been noted that kids don't always tell the truth when surveyed on sexual issues,) that these findings can be projected as applying to all tweens throughout the country.

I've noted before (and I'm sure that I will do so again in the future) that the parental role in educating and equipping kids to develop healthy sexuality—including values that serve as the foundation for sexuality—is key.

The MSN article excerpt (below) concludes that the evidence of this study and others demonstrates the ineffectiveness of abstinence education and promotes a shift to other sex education models that focus on safe sex practices and effective use of contraceptives. I am not opposed to abstinence education, nor a comprehensive approach to sex education. Still, any approach that does not promote parental involvement in the process, falls short of providing the morals and values components of sexuality that kids today so desperately need.

A troubling new study that reveals that some middle schoolers are engaging in behavior that's much riskier than texting naughty cell phone photos.

Researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health examined sexual risk behaviors among middle school students in a large southeastern U.S. urban public school district and found that by age 12, 12 percent of students had already engaged in vaginal sex, 7.9 percent in oral sex, 6.5 percent in anal sex and 4 percent in all three types of intercourse.

While the majority of seventh graders in the study were not sexually active, those in the 12 percent are putting themselves at risk for pregnancy and diseases. The study found one-third of sexually active students reported engaging in vaginal or anal sex without a condom within the past three months, and one-fourth had four or more partners.

These findings, coupled with a report in The Washington Post that the teen birth rate has risen for the second consecutive year, provide new evidence that abstinence-only education is ineffective and that the $162 million in federal funding spent annually to support those programs perhaps ought to be shifted to those that promote safer sex practices and the effective use of contraceptives.

Source: MSN

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