I started talking to my daughter, Skylar, about sex when she was in the first grade. We were living in Baltimore at the time -- which, as far as I’m concerned, would make the perfect set if someone ever filmed a movie about Sodom or Gomorrah -- and on any given day, we could run into a drug-addicted prostitute, nasty-mouthed neighborhood kids, or a crazy person randomly flashing their tiddly winks to passersby. Couple that with what she was seeing on TV and I had to scurry to educate her before someone else did.
So one day in the car, I whipped out a CD and a highlighter as props and demonstrated what the act of sex was like.
Some six years later, the media is an even bigger billboard for hypersexuality than it was back then, and Skylar’s preadolescent tastes have elevated Nicki Minaj to her favorite rapper (something I’m not thrilled about at all). But at least I can rest easy that those lyrics or an episode of Degrassi aren’t her first impressions of sex. I got to her first.
There’s more hope that my Little Miss Thang won’t get sucked into society’s less-than-subtle fascination with the S-word. According to recently released findings from the National Survey of Family Growth, there’s been a steady decline in sex among 15-to-24-year-olds since the research was last conducted in 2002. 29 percent of girls and 27 percent of boys never had any sexual contact with another person, and data shows that vaginal intercourse among teenagers has been dropping since 1988. Abstinence, ladies (and maybe some gentleman), is on the rise among our kids. All your nagging and lecturing is paying off. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
Why the shift? Aside from lessons at home, there are a number of contributing factors -- perhaps the increased knowledge these kids have about HIV and other diseases, perhaps our generation’s big promotion and push onto our kids about abstinence -- but largely because they’re too busy and goal-oriented to be derailed by sex.
Finally! A statistical teen sex study with a positive twist. So thank God for every after-school activity, every carpooled event, every little dance recital or music lesson, every foreign language or math club, every athletic team and sports club that keeps these kids occupied and opens their minds to something bigger than what’s going on between their legs. One 17-year-old girl, who’s a competitive swimmer and a high school junior, told a journalist interviewing her, “I’m too busy. It’s not even on my radar.” Yessss.
Before you dust off your back handspring, though, be forewarned: they are having oral sex. In an effort to perhaps preserve their virginity or avoid contracting nasty diseases, 7 percent of females and 10 percent of males between the ages of 15 and17 admit to having oral sex but no vaginal sex. As the age goes up, the oral sex-only activity goes down, which tells us what we pretty much already knew -- the willpower to hold out from sex dwindles with time. Duh.
But for now, moms like me (and maybe you) can only hope that our kids are among the numbers too busy with life and focused on realizing goals to muff up their future with s-e-x. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Skylar keeps her legs crossed, at least until she’s in her mid-20s. Or 30s. Or 40s.
Do you think the numbers in the study ring true? How open are you about talking birds and bees in your house?
Image via Marco Gomes/Flickr