America's youngest adolescents are not as sexually active as they're perceived.
New research shows only point 6 percent of 10-year-old boys and girls, 1.1 percent of 11-year-olds, and 2.4 percent of 12-year-olds have had sex.
The study also finds that sex among the very young is often involuntary. Sixty-two percent of girls who had sex by the age of 10 say their first time was forced.
"Policymakers and the media often sensationalize teen sexual behavior, suggesting that adolescents as young as 10 or 11 are increasingly sexually active," lead study author Lawrence Finer, director of Domestic Research for the Guttmacher Institute, said. "But the data just don't support that concern."
Rather, we are seeing teens waiting longer to have sex, using contraceptives more frequently when they start having sex, and being less likely to become pregnant than their peers of past decades," he concluded.
However, sexual activity remains common older teenagers. The study was published online April 1 in the Journal Pediatrics.