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"Secret sex lives of kids"

March 2001 Ladies Home Journal

'One in twelve children is no longer a virgin by his or her thirteenth birthday, and 21 percent of ninth-graders have slept with four or more partners. An alarming report every parent must read.'

Thirteen-year-old Ashley Robinson began dating in fourth grade. At first, "it was movies, malls and making out," says the eighth-grader from Pleasantville, New York. These days, "about half of the people in my class are sexually experienced. Some have lost their virginity, but most have oral sex. It's popular because you can't get pregnant." Last July, she decided to try oral sex with a boy she'd been seeing for a month. "We did it to each other; it was fun. Now we do it at his house, my house, everywhere. Oral sex rules!"

Robinson and her friends are part of a horrifying trend. Increasingly, children barely past puberty are sexually active, says Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP), in Washington,

D. C. By the time kids turn fifteen, according to research from the National Center for Health Statistics, one third of girls have had sex (compared with less than 5 percent in 1970), as have 45 percent of boys (up from 20 percent in 1972).

But even those kids who remain virgins aren't necessarily innocent. In a recent survey by Seventeen magazine, 55 percent of teens, aged thirteen to nineteen, admitted to engaging in oral sex. Half of them felt it wasn't as big a deal as intercourse-a view Sarah Brown often hears from kids. "It didn't help that we had a president who said oral sex isn't sex," she says. Adds Robin Goodman, Web site director of New York University's Child Study Center, in New York City, "Oral sex is like the latest sport, an activity kids egg each other on to try. Parents may say, 'That's not my child,' but nearly half of them are wrong."

Recent scandals highlight the extent of the problem. In 1998, parents of as many as fifteen eighth-graders at Williamsburg Middle School, in Arlington, Virginia, were aghast when school officials informed them that their kids were having oral sex at parties and in local parks. (Apparently, a child had confided in a school counselor.) Also that year, a twelve-year-old girl and thirteen-year-old boy were arrested for allegedly organizing an oral-sex-for-hire ring at Langston Hughes Middle School, in upper-middle-class Reston, Maryland. The boy was convicted and sent to a juvenile-detention center, and the girl was placed under house arrest.


(Article continued on about some regret and guilty feelings from committing full sexual intercourse at an early age.)


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