Teens and Sex: The Pressure Is On
By Josie Brown
Yes, your daughter is getting hit on–even if she’s only in sixth grade.
According to a report that includes responses from about 2,000 girls in Franklin, Ohio and the six surrounding counties, a girl’s life today is filled with social pressures, including dating, sex, body shape and bullying.
The study was released Wednesday by the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. Results came from interviews with 914 girls who have participated in the Ruling Our eXperiences program. Additional survey respondents were found through schools, Girl Scout troops, mentoring and after-school programs.
“The intensity of the responses surprised us,” said the study’s author, Lisa Hinkelman, who is the executive director of the Interprofessional Commission of Ohio at Ohio State University, a nonprofit that brings different professions together to work on social problems.
The most important factor of all: peer relationships. While they are coveted, they are also problematic, Hinkelman said.
The biggest issue of concern for both the fifth- through seventh-grade group and the eighth- through 12th-grade group:
As far as priorities, younger girls named “friends, drama, puberty and school”, whereas their older female peers listed sex, drama, drugs and alcohol, pressure, friends and pregnancy worries.
That’s right, mothers: sex topped the list.
Of the 21 survey topics, friendships ranked within the top five for all grades. Dating was a top response for all but fifth-graders.
Cyberspace is an important topic for middle-school girls, while sex moves into the top five after ninth grade.
Though the sample isn’t statistically representative, the researchers looked for a response that was wide-reaching and diverse, Hinkelman said.
When social pressure is too much to handle, who did the respondents prefer to talk to? Two-thirds answered girls their age or older.
Adult women were the least-favorite option.
Another reason to sheath those claws, tiger mothers–and open your hearts and ears.
For more information about “One Girl: A Snapshot of Girls in Central Ohio” or about the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, go to http://www.womensfundcentralohio.org/ or call 614-225-9926.
Her next novel, The Baby Planner, will be in bookstores on April 5, 2011.