Skip to content

Teens, self-esteem, and first sex

May 5th, 2005

Dr Petra

Research from Statistics Canada has made scientists look again at teenagers’ first sexual experiences.

Evidence already suggests that girls have sex for the first time at a very young age, are often less educated and not as confident as their peers who postpone sexual activity until they are older. The Statistics Canada research supported this, but added a new twist.

Because their research found this phenomenon doesn’t apply to boys. Lads who had sex at a young age were found to have higher self-worth than their peers. It may be that boys who lack confidence are too worried about their bodies or sexual performance, or too shy to initiate sexual activity, and therefore have sex later.

The Statistics Canada report showed those who had sex early were more likely to have an STI and more than one sexual partner. However, critics of the survey pointed out they only asked teens “Have you ever had sexual intercourse?” rather than defining sex more specifically, meaning some teenagers may have answered ‘yes’ – but were talking about oral sex or petting, rather than penetrative sex.

Nevertheless if these findings are accurate, it does raise issues for the delivery of sexual health education. Parents, teachers and health care professionals may have to target different messages about sexual well being to girls with low self-esteem and highly confident boys, if these are the groups most likely to have sex aged under 15.

Comments are closed.