The University of Texas School of Public Health recently discovered that middle school sex happens more often than most think. According to their study:
- 1/3 of students experienced precoital touching behaviors
>> 43% of these students experienced sexual intercourse
- 12% of students experienced vaginal sex by age 12
- 7.9% of students experienced oral sex by age 12
- 6.5% of students experienced anal sex by age 12
- 4% of students experienced all three types of sex by age 12
Among sexually active middle school students:
- 1/3 experienced vaginal or anal sex without a condom within the past three months
- 1/4 had four or more partners
Obviously, this trend is alarming morally. But researcher Christine Markham also states:
These findings are alarming because youth who start having sex before age 14 are much more likely to have multiple lifetime sexual partners, use alcohol or drugs before sex and have unprotected sex, all of which puts them at greater risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease or becoming pregnant.
I think middle school ministry is usually too soft. It is a difficult age to teach because some students are still years away from puberty while others are already beginning to experiment with sex, drugs, alcohol, and porn. Children’s ministers don’t like to touch taboo topics, but when 1 in 3 students are feeling each other up, how can they afford not to?
It takes tact, grace, and wisdom to discuss these things with students without offending or embarrassing them or their parents. It is challenging but worth it. It is much easier for a middle school minister to teach a preventive message than it is for a high school minister to rewire students’ established bad habits.
- At what age does your church begin approaching tough topics?
- What do you think is the best way to teach tough topics to young students?