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This content has not been reviewed within the past year and may not represent WebMD's most up-to-date information. June 14, -- Why do young teens have sex? While a recent study suggested sexy media images might be to blame, a new study shows Teens want sex tonight might also be motivated by relationship goals like intimacy and social status. Teens want their relationships to bring them intimacysocial status, and sexual pleasure -- and they have a strong expectation these goals will be fulfilled if they have sex, according to a report in the June issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.
The report says these perceived benefits should be considered along with the risks sexually transmitted diseasespregnancy pregnancy when developing programs aimed at preventing early teen sex.
Mary Ott, MD, from Indiana University, along with colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco, sought to find out why young teens want -- or would want -- to have sex defined in this study as male-female intercourse. They surveyed ninth-graders in two socioeconomically and ethnically diverse Northern California schools.
The researchers found the boys and girls valued relationship goals differently: Girls considered intimacy ificantly more important than boys did. Boys reported higher expectations that sex would lead to pleasure and social status. The experienced teens considered intimacy and sexual pleasure ificantly more important as a relationship goal than the inexperienced teens did. As for social status, sexually experienced girls saw less value in that than inexperienced girls did.
There was no difference of opinion about social status between experienced and inexperienced boys. The researchers say this supports the double standard that sex improves the social status of boys but jeopardizes it for girls. Generally, teens expected sex to help them reach goals of intimacy, pleasure, and social status.
However, girls and sexually inexperienced teens had lower expectations. The researchers say programs to dissuade early teen sex usually focus on the negative -- the risks of STDs and pregnancy. Teens might heed the message better, they say, if the positive expectations -- "developing a sense of intimacy, achieving social skills and goals, and experiencing sexual pleasure" -- are recognized and alternative ways to achieve those goals suggested.
Prevention Tactics The researchers say programs to dissuade early teen sex usually focus on the negative -- the risks of STDs and pregnancy. Could I have CAD? Missing Teeth?Teens want sex tonight
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