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Young females seem to be engaging in more risky business than males.

African-American teen girls are 40 percent more likely than Whites to engage in unprotected sex their first time, a study shows.

Research presented by Nicole Weller, an Arizona State University doctoral student, at the American Public Health Association meeting in Denver, was based on government data that found that adolescent girls are 30 percent more likely than boys to engage in unprotected sex during their first act of sexual intercourse. Her findings flip the script on how we perceive teenage behaviors.

“It does because of the history of boys engaging in risky behavior across the spectrum and then seeing that females are having first unprotected sex is telling a different story,” Weller said.

This isn’t to say that boys aren’t part of the problem.

Laura Lindberg, senior research associate of the Guttmacher Institute, believes young girls are aren’t as able to advocate for birth control and are not the first ones to ask for sex. The contraception method for a girl’s first time is usually condom usage, which relies heavily upon the boy.

There is also the factor of relationship status, in which a girl who has been dating a boy for a long time grows to trust and love them to the point that they are ensured that their partner will not get them pregnant or give them an STI. The theory of attachment and trust in relationships can bypass a female’s  contraceptive standards.

The study examined data from the National Survey on Family Growth on 5,012 boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 19.  Research found that the average age for a girl’s first time is 16.

How do we prevent this? Educate the young ones—at the right age. Studies have revealed that the older a teenager is before he or she has sex, the more likely they will use or advocate for birth control. Young girls who engage in sex at early ages are often not fully aware or recognizant of their sexuality, body, or sexual health. They are more vulnerable and more likely to be pressured into having sex.

This sparks the debate of how young is too young to educate a teenage girl about sex? And what forms of sexual health prevention, such as abstinence or contraception, should be preached to young girls? It is important for females to be aware of their options and make decisions on their own, based on personal beliefs. However, we can’t deny that age plays an important factor in developing mindsets. Maturity level is key to shaping a girl’s outlook on sex and strengthening her ability to react appropriately in peer-pressured sexual situations.

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