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12/9/18blog post

teen sexual behavior

If you want to discourage your teen’s initial sexual activities, the most effective way may be to monitor their alcohol usage. For teens aged 12 to16 years old, the best predictor of when they will have sex is the age at which they began drinking according to research published by Drs. Kelly Doran and Mary Waldon.

While males began drinking and having sex at an earlier age than females, the strong correlation between drinking and sex was true for both genders but was stronger for females. Teen girls who drank alcohol were four times as likely to engage in sexual activities compared with their non-drinking female peers.

There are lots of good reasons to encourage our kids to delay sexual relationships until later adolescence.  Early teen sexual behavior is more likely to result in the decreased use of effective birth control.  Having a child during your teen years is related to a myriad of serious social and psychological issues for both the parents and child.

This correlational study didn’t address the question of why early drinking is associated with sexual activity.  Drinking alters your mood and impairs rational decision making, what some experts have called “alcohol myopia.”  Drinking impairs cognitive functioning in a way that one focuses more on the immediate consequences (e.g., “this feels good”) rather than the long-term effects (e.g., diseases, pregnancy, and consent).

This study also didn’t try to sort out the complex issue of whether the sexual partners were willing participants. Alcohol consumption may make one participant less able to protect herself, while alcohol myopia may mislead the other person into misinterpreting sexual consent.

I spend lots of time with teens in my office talking about sex. Here is what I’ve learned from them.

  1. The internet has replaced parents. Kids no longer need to wait for you to have “the talk” about sexual issues. They search the internet to learn about first-time sexual experiences, the size of a
    male’s genitals, and ways to avoid pregnancy. Kids think that you are no longer necessary as a source of guidance about sex.
  2. Parents are now more important than ever. At least half of the things kids tell me about what they’ve read on the internet about sex is factually wrong or misleading. Teens can’t distinguish between reliable sources of information and fake media. This leaves them vulnerable and confused.
  3. Pornography is the new sex educator. This is the first generation of kids that can see every conceivable sexual act before actually doing it. Kids have viewed some incredibly disturbing and misleading images of what sex is all about. This has created many unrealistic, unhealthy and perverse expectations of sexual relationships.