“I had sex with my older boyfriend at 16,” says Ashley Jones, 22, a young Georgia woman. ” (The Kinsey institute puts the average age that kids have first have sex at 16.9 for boys and 17.4 for girls.) Current sex education, where it does exist, often teaches the basic plumbing, but it’s not answering the questions young people really have when it comes to sexuality: What should I do when my girlfriend/boyfriend is pressuring me to have sex?
“Suddenly my dad wanted to talk about the birds and the bees. What on earth was happening in that video I probably shouldn’t have clicked online?
Or where primetime TV shows—the kind you often watch with your family—not infrequently make reference to anal sex? Longitudinal studies suggest exposure to sexual content on TV and other media in early adolescence is linked to double the risk of early sexual intercourse, and young people whose parents limit their TV time are less likely to partake in early sexual behavior.
Other studies have found that 10% of young women who had their first sexual experience in their teenage years say it was not their choice, and the younger they were, the more likely this was the case. ” Young people now engage in relationships increasingly via technology, which means they’re able to connect in a variety of ways and at a speed and frequency not known to prior generations.
“We don’t say, ‘they’re going to drink anyway, let’s give them a car with bigger airbags.’” The parents note that the book was actually written for college students, and refers to college-related activities like bar crawls.
(While acknowledging this, the book’s author Sara L. Mackenzie, believes it’s appropriate for high schoolers; her children read it at 13.) The book has been shelved, at least for this year. The Fremont showdown is a local skirmish in what has become a complicated and exhausting battle that schools and parents are facing across the nation. TIME reviewed the leading research on the subject as well as currently available resources to produce the information that follows, as well as specific guides to how and when to talk to kids on individual topics.
But these numbers only tell a tiny snippet of the story. “Most of the time they don’t talk about contraception, they don’t talk about risk of pregnancy, STIs [sexually transmitted infections]—certainly not abortion.