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Researchers link teen sex to early friendships, steady dating

COLUMBUS, Ohio The nature of preteen friendships can play a key role in determining whether or not a child will engage in sexual activity early in adolescence, a new study suggests.

For example, researchers found that boys who had mostly female friends when they were preteens were more likely to have had sex by age 16 than were other boys. However, the same wasn't true for girls who as preteens had mostly male friends.

Results also showed that preteens with friends in higher grades were more likely to have sex in early adolescence. Going steady in early adolescence was also linked to having sex as a young teen.

"Social networking at ages 11 and 12 is powerfully predictive of sexual initiation between early and middle adolescence," said Elizabeth Cooksey, a study co-author and an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University. She and her colleagues also found that having a steady boyfriend or girlfriend as a young teenager significantly increased the odds of having sex.

The researchers define early adolescence as ages 13 and 14 and middle adolescence as ages 15 and 16.

Cooksey and her colleagues also found that one out of three of the teens in the study had had sex by age 16. Of these children, one in eight said they had had sex
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Contact: Elizabeth Cooksey
Cooksey.1@osu.edu
614-292-6484
Ohio State University
15-Nov-2002


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