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Low-income kids report first sexual intercourse at 12 years old in new national study
Date:8/17/2009

AMES, Iowa -- As a new mother herself, Brenda Lohman admits to being shocked by the results of a new study she co-authored. It found that among nearly 1,000 low-income families in three major cities, one in four children between the ages of 11 and 16 reported having sex, with their first sexual intercourse experience occurring at the average age of 12.77.

"So if 12 years was the average age here, that meant that some kids were starting at 10 or younger," said Lohman, an Iowa State University associate professor of human development and family studies (HDFS). "A handful of kids reported having sex as early as 8 or 9. We know from our follow-up interviews that one boy who reported having sexual intercourse for the first time at age nine had fathered four children by the time he was 18."

"Those people who say that kids don't have sex at that young of age should think again," she said. "Definitely the age is the most shocking thing about this study."

Tina Jordahl, a former Iowa State HDFS and public policy graduate student who is now a market research specialist with Hospice of Central Iowa, collaborated with Lohman on the study. It analyzes data from the "Welfare, Children and Families: A Three-City Study" -- a six-year longitudinal investigation of low-income families living in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio. Their paper, titled "A biological analysis of risk and protective factors associated with early sexual intercourse of young adolescents," was posted online in the Children and Youth Services Review and will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal.

Interview data for the study was first collected in 1999 on youth between the ages of 10 and 14, and again in 2001. Lohman says she also has data collected in 2006 from the same subjects, who were between 16 and 20 by that time.

In the study, boys reported their first sexual intercourse at younger ages (averaging 12.48) than girls (13.16). Boys also
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Contact: Mike Ferlazzo
ferlazzo@iastate.edu
515-294-8986
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert

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