Several racial and ethnic differences have been found in the age of first sexual inter­course (Blum et al., 2000). African American males were more likely to have lost their virginity and to have had more lifetime partners than were non-African American males (Ku et al., 1998). In fact, in one study the median age (or middle of the range of ages) for African American males to engage in sexual intercourse was 11 years old (Stanton et al., 1994), but other studies have found different results. Other ethnic differences in­clude findings that Native American adolescents show more same-sex behavior than whites (Saewyc et al., 1998), whereas African American adolescents engage in more sexual behavior than Asian adolescents (Upchurch et al., 1998).

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS), which we discussed earlier in this chapter, found that among 9th – through 12th-grade boys, 72.7% of black students, 52.2% of Latino students, and 43.6% of white students reported having had sexual in­tercourse (Brener et al., 2002). Among 9th – through 12th-grade girls, the numbers were 65.6% for black students, 45.7% for Latinos, and 44% for whites.

Another study on rates of sexual intercourse found that 30% of over 1,300 Philadelphia 6th graders, averaging under 12 years old, reported having already initiated

sex byte

Researchers have found a connection between childhood tomboy behavior and later lesbianism (Safir et al., 2003).

sexual intercourse (Grunbaum et al., 2002). Most studies find that females have sex later than males throughout the teen years in all racial groups (O’Connor, 1999). It is impor­tant to realize that all such studies rely on self-report and are made more difficult because definitions of sexuality (even intercourse!) differ among young people (Sanders & Reinisch, 1999).

ReviewQuestion

Explain what we know about the specific sexual behaviors that often occur during adolescence.

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