Correlates and consequences of early initiation of sexual intercourse

J Sch Health. 1994 Nov;64(9):372-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.1994.tb06208.x.

Abstract

This cross-sectional analysis of the 1991 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey explored factors associated with an early age at first sexual intercourse. Almost 18% of White males, 49% of Black males, 5% of White females and 12% of Black females were sexually active before age 13. Carrying a weapon to school, fighting, and early (< age 13) experimentation with cigarettes and alcohol were associated with early initiation of sexual activity for all four race and gender groupings. Those initiating sexual activity early had greater numbers of partners but were 50% less likely to use condoms regularly and were two-seven times more likely to have been pregnant or caused a pregnancy. Females who initiated sexual activity early were more likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Interventions to postpone sexual activity need to be tailored to the ethnic and gender differences observed in these analyses. Interventions must begin before age 13 and should be comprehensive school-based efforts.

PIP: The 1991 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey is a statewide survey of 1509 White male, 1234 Black male, 1479 White female, and 1256 Black female public school students in grades 9-12 conducted February-May 1991 in South Carolina. Survey data were used in the study of factors associated with experiencing first sexual intercourse at younger than age 13. Students younger than 14 years old were excluded from the analysis. 17.8% of White males, 49.2% of Black males, 5.1% of White females, and 11.9% of Black females had had sexual intercourse before age 13. 38% of White males, 12% of Black males, 47% of White females, and 27% of Black females were virgins at the time of the interview. Controlling for race, males were 6.8 times more likely than females to have had first sexual intercourse when younger than 13. Fighting, experimenting with cigarettes and alcohol younger than age 13, and carrying a weapon to school were associated for all race and gender groupings with the early initiation of sexual intercourse. 54.8% of White males, however, compared to 39.3% of Black males brought weapons to school, 51.1% of White males compared to 47.0% of Black males got into a fight at school, 11.6% of White males compared to 5.3% of Black males smoked before age 13, and 39.0% of White males compared to 30.6% of Black males drank alcohol before age 13. Respondents who initiated sexual intercourse before age 13 had greater numbers of partners, but were 50% less likely to use condoms regularly and were two-seven times more likely to have been pregnant or caused a pregnancy. Females who initiated sexual activity early were more likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease. The authors recommend that the ethnic and gender differences observed in this study be considered when designing interventions to postpone sexual activity. Interventions must begin before age 13 and should be both comprehensive and school-based.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / psychology
  • Child
  • Coitus
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior* / ethnology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control