How Common is Sex for Boys Before Age 13?

Bottom Line: Researchers combined data from two U.S. surveys to examine how common it is for boys to have sex before they turn 13. The study included data from nearly 20,000 male high school students and about 7,700 other males between the ages of 15 to 24. Overall, 7.6 percent of the male high school students and 3.6 percent of the other males reported having sexual intercourse before age 13. The proportion varied across metropolitan areas, from 5 percent in San Francisco to 25 percent in Memphis, with higher rates among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic males in most areas. The study notes limitations including that sexual intercourse is just one indicator of sexuality and that it’s  important to consider behaviors other than vaginal-penile intercourse to understand sexual development. These findings may have implications for the timing of sex education and sexual and reproductive health care.

Author: Laura D. Lindberg, Ph.D., Guttmacher Institute, New York, and coauthors