October 20, 2005
Experts say that on average teenagers begin to feel pressure to have sex around age thirteen. That’s about five years sooner than pervious generations. News 12 is on your side with why the peer pressure may be biologically difficult to resist at this age.
It has to do with developmental changes in the brain. In the early teen years, the part of the brain responsible for making judgment calls and forming individual ideas is under construction. This clouds teens’ ability to connect the consequences of sexual activity with their actions.
Counselor John Hill has worked with sexually active teens for more than ten years.
“The pressure seems to have gotten worse from the teens I’ve talked to,” Hill said.
Across the country today statistics say about 10,000 teens contracted a new STD.
“The age seems to be going down for sexual experimentation,” Hill said.
Anyone who has sex under the age of sixteen can be charged with fornication. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has had five reports of statutory rape this year, and in an average year they get between five and ten. For statutory rape to be considered a felony, there must be at least three years of difference in age. The maximum penalty for this is up to twenty years in jail. For aggravated molestation involving sodomy or injury to the victim, the maximum penalty is thirty years.
But are teenagers thinking about the consequences?
“It’s just a lot of young people doing a lot of adult things they’re not supposed to do,” said Kenescia Wilson, student.
And have expectations changed?
“It’s high school, they’re just guys, ya know?” said Christina Kernaghan, student.
Dr. Hill’s advice is talk to your children.
“There needs to be a lot of education on the part of homes and schools and churches,” Hill said.
Proper education will teach them how to make smart choices. Nationally, one in three teens will get a sexually transmitted disease and one fourth of those cases will be HIV.
You can help your kids by keeping the relationship strong by spending as much time as possible with them. Communication and parental approval is more important than your kids might let on.