Young females seem to be engaging in more risky business than males.

African-American teen girls are 40 percent more likely than Whites to engage in unprotected sex their first time, a study shows.

Research presented by Nicole Weller, an Arizona State University doctoral student, at the American Public Health Association meeting in Denver, was based on government data that found that adolescent girls are 30 percent more likely than boys to engage in unprotected sex during their first act of sexual intercourse. Her findings flip the script on how we perceive teenage behaviors.

“It does because of the history of boys engaging in risky behavior across the spectrum and then seeing that females are having first unprotected sex is telling a different story,” Weller said.

This isn’t to say that boys aren’t part of the problem.

Laura Lindberg, senior research associate of the Guttmacher Institute, believes young girls are aren’t as able to advocate for birth control and are not the first ones to ask for sex. The contraception method for a girl’s first time is usually condom usage, which relies heavily upon the boy.

There is also the factor of relationship status, in which a girl who has been dating a boy for a long time grows to trust and love them to the point that they are ensured that their partner will not get them pregnant or give them an STI. The theory of attachment and trust in relationships can bypass a female’s  contraceptive standards.

The study examined data from the National Survey on Family Growth on 5,012 boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 19.  Research found that the average age for a girl’s first time is 16.

How do we prevent this? Educate the young ones—at the right age. Studies have revealed that the older a teenager is before he or she has sex, the more likely they will use or advocate for birth control. Young girls who engage in sex at early ages are often not fully aware or recognizant of their sexuality, body, or sexual health. They are more vulnerable and more likely to be pressured into having sex.

This sparks the debate of how young is too young to educate a teenage girl about sex? And what forms of sexual health prevention, such as abstinence or contraception, should be preached to young girls? It is important for females to be aware of their options and make decisions on their own, based on personal beliefs. However, we can’t deny that age plays an important factor in developing mindsets. Maturity level is key to shaping a girl’s outlook on sex and strengthening her ability to react appropriately in peer-pressured sexual situations.

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  • Produce

    @Erin (Idk, it doesn’t have a reply button under your name)

    When people say “female” they take away the person hood of the women they’re talking about. “Female” also brings to mind a sort of animalistic classification that leaves very little space to see the person hood of the intended subject. It’s even more telling, that we don’t say “males” when we refer to men, but we think it’s okay to use a term in and informal context that is generally reserved for nature shows and more formal scientific/ legal context.

    • Interesting observation. I’ve never even thought about this until I went thru the article and not once to they call the young boys they referred to “males”. I’m definitely going to pay attention to this more often.

  • Alexandra

    Practicing this kind of behavior will have consequences. You’d be surprised by some girls who simply don’t know. Volunteer you guys, find a youth center and help spread the knowledge to these young girls. The girls I help educate sex are young. The youngest on average was 11, which I think is appropriate. Many girls of today (especially) are developing at a fast rate.
    My niece is 11 and my sister for some reason doesnt think its the right age, but she’d be surprised by how much she knows/speculates. That’s where I come in; my niece brings all her questions to me and I glad to help.

  • In this discussion, I hope we don’t lose sight of the fact that while we do indeed need to educate girls about sex and contraception, the boys cannot be left out of the conversation. It’s shameful that girls and grown women have to bear the burden of protecting BOTH parties from STDs and unintended pregnancy. It’s unfair, unsafe and does nothing to support healthy sexuality of women or men. Folks always want to talk to their girls about keeping their legs closed but that lesson is out of date, like it or not.
    It makes sense that at first sex, condoms are most likely to be used – not too many girls are going to be on birth control before they’re sexually active – but since you need buy-in from your male partner before a condom comes into play (unless you consider female condoms), our young men need to know that condoms are MANDATORY.
    A recent study showed that women are more likely to use and stick with birth control if their partner supports it. Let’s be sure to talk to the boys about supporting birth control and the women who use it.

    • Kema

      I agree totally!

      I have two sons and I plan on teaching them about responsibility the same way I would if I had a daughters.

  • oknow

    another reason is because these lil girls out here let these boys convince them that it won’t feel the same if i use a condom or i promise i’ll pull out.. nowadays, both girls and boys who are having sex need to carry condoms.. if you don’t have one-buy one.. they need to come to the realization that purchasing a condom is a whole lot cheaper than raising a child for the next 18yrs and/or getting an std..

    • Anissa

      Truth. As women, we need to start taking responsibility for ourselves. My mother was never shy about talking about sex and contraceptives with me, and I’m thankful for that because I could’ve easily had a child or worse…

      I definitely agree that BOTH girls and boys need to have protection. We need to teach young women that it is not the man’s job to provide the condoms. Things get hot and heavy unexpectedly (especially in college when you have that first taste of freedom) and you dont want to get to that point where you decide you want to have sex but he doesnt have a condom. Then you have to make a decision of whether to say no or whether to continue unprotective. I refuse. If he doesnt have a condom, you need to have two.

  • Asia

    I am 14 years old and I live in Philadelphia. I am shocked that the average age a girl has sex is at 16 in this time period. Many people I know that are having sex are my age and younger. It seems like in my community that many young people are having sex unprotected so they can say that their not virgins anymore. Honestly I think it is pathetic and even though they know the possible outcomes they choose to be stupid and do it anyway. My advice is to be abstinent unless you are in a serious relationship and you can seriously picture yourself being married to this person. If you are having sex use a condom and know that it is not 100% effective and be willing to deal with the consequences.

    • Sammy23

      Asia,

      Dear I hope God blesses you in so many ways! You are an example of youth in our community that actually have your head on straight! YOU ARE SO RIGHT. 14 is way to young to be doing any kind of thing–and these girls are going to come to regret it or even get pregnant. Your main focus at 14 should be getting involved in your community, getting good grades, and having safe fun as a teenager. 14 is way too young and sex should not even be considered until your in a serious relationship with someone you could see yourself marrying. That’s good philosophy baby girl! Keep your head up.