WASHINGTON – America’s tweens are entering adolescence earlier, but that does not mean they are becoming sexually active at a younger age.
A study in the April issue of Pediatrics finds sexual activity is incredibly rare among preteens. Roughly 1 percent of 10- and 11-year-olds and just over 2 percent of 12-year-olds are sexually active.
Dr. Lawrence D’Angelo, head of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, says he is not surprised by the study results.
“We have not seen a tremendous increase in younger teens who are sexually active,” he says.
In fact, D’Angelo says the study implies preteens are less sexually active today than they were two decades ago. But there is a flip-side to the study, and a cause for concern.
Among the preteens who had had sex, roughly half said the sexual activity was coerced.
D’Angelo says it is an indictment of American culture that so many kids are still being sexually abused.
He says parents need to talk to their children about sexuality, and waiting until they are even 8 or 9 may be too late.
“I think it actually starts by saying to a 4- or-5-year-old,