Middle School Sex

Kent Shaffer —  April 14, 2009

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.

For Discussion:
- 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?

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

12 responses to Middle School Sex

  1. Our church is right in the middle of the country, so some of the trends are slower to show up in our community. But we are seeing middle school students becoming sexually active. One prominant middle school recently had to break up an afterschool sex group. I’m not sure what our children’s ministry does, but I know that we address these topics bluntly with the middle school and high school. Some students are still naive but most are very informed. They hear voices every day calling them to embrace impurity. We must be a loud, clear voice calling them to embrace God’s standards of purity.

  2. Our church, a very large suburban Methodist Church, recently moved our sex curriculum down into middle school. We were teaching it in 9th grade. Our student ministry is organized around small groups, and so these small groups will spend a full semester covering sex. It is still a little late. I’m hoping to see us start to teach a little in the children’s ministry and then go full force in middle school. It is one of the greatest threats to our kids wholeness.

  3. Wow! I live in Melbourne, Australia and have kids coming up fast to the ages discussed here in this post. I am not sure what the stats are for Australia – here we don’t have middle-school – but I suspect that the figures, while not as high as the ones cited here, will be as alarming.

    This gives me pause to think about what my own kids are getting into and how their peers are, as well as the ministry that I am involved with.

  4. kent,
    I couldn’t agree more. Is a pastor of those ages 12-24 i would rather be the first voice on sex rather than the second with the first voice coming from the back of the bus. I think the that pastor needs grace and tact but also directness. The main obstical that a pastor faces is the voice of parents that say “when i was a kid we never…”. The truth is we are pastoring young people in an entirely different age. And pastors need to respectfully engage and partner with parents providing them with resources and facts on these issues enabling and encouraging them to talk to there children at home BEFORE its spoken about in a sermon or a series of sermons.

  5. We covered this story on our show today. Thanks for making it available to us! (I gave you a shout out too…)

    The episode can be heard here: http://www.thetechologyshow.com/2009/04/episode-007/

    ~Matthew Tietje
    The Techology Show

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Middle School Sex | light the dust - April 14, 2009

    [...] To read the article, click HERE. [...]

  2. Web Sites of Interest » links for 2009-04-14 - April 14, 2009

    [...] Middle School Sex | churchrelevance.com (tags: church christianity culture) [...]

  3. The Marshian Chronicles » Short Rounds #117 - April 17, 2009

    [...] Middle School Sex – very sad! [...]

  4. Sex and Middle School Ministry | Think Christian - April 17, 2009

    [...] friend Kent Shaffer over at churchrelevence.com recently posted some stats from The University of Texas Health Science Center about middle school [...]

  5. 5THRU8» Blog Archive » Week Review (April 13- 19) - April 20, 2009

    [...] of them that ‘wished they did not come’. It was depressing to hear that but, after seeing these statistics- I am glad to speak on the [...]

  6. Episode 007 - On the Wings of a Carrier Pigeon | The Techology Show - April 22, 2009

    [...] http://churchrelevance.com/middle-school-sex/ http://publicaffairs.uth.tmc.edu/media/newsreleases/nr2009/sphstudy.htm [...]

  7. Blog posts that you may find interesting « Josh Lange - April 24, 2009

    [...] Churchrelevance.com: Kind of a tough article, but it’s dealing with reality.  The article ends with 2 questions that we all must think about: 1) At what age does your church begin approaching tough topics? 2) What do you think is the best way to teach tough topics to young students?  [...]