Report: Boots being knocked younger and younger

A&E explores the real secret life of the American (promiscuous) teenager.

John Sand

Gone are the days when the ideal spot for virginity loss was the senior prom after-party. Teens are no longer waiting for the perfect romantic moment after an evening of sparkling cider and cheap corsages to drop their drawers. With biology on their side and technology as an enabling aphrodisiac, young people are exploring what Vanessa Carlton calls a âÄúrush of blood and a little bit of painâÄù earlier and earlier. A recent study by Tyra BanksâÄô sociological crew collected information from 10,000 girls across America. They found that girls are losing their virginity at the average age of 15, and only about half are using protection. Are these youngsters worried about pregnancy? Probably not âÄî about 20 percent of girls admit to wanting a child while still in high school. Contrast this data with what Brigid Riley, the executive director of the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting , finds. Riley says the sources she reads (such as the Center for Disease Control, which collects self-reported data) are still reporting a median at the age of 17. This doesnâÄôt mean either study has the final word. It depends on who exactly is responding to surveys from daytime television and who self-reports to the CDC. ThatâÄôs two years left unaccounted for. âÄúStill, about half of high schoolers have lost their virginity by graduation,âÄù Riley said. âÄúThereâÄôs a whole lot of sex going on out there.âÄù OK, OK, it should be admitted that this whole teen pregnancy thing is nothing new. Surely all that have seen Maury reruns know that some little girls are just determined to get knocked up. Oftentimes they have severe misconceptions about what raising a baby involves, like 15 year-old Maury guest Victoria, who said âÄúif my baby gets cold and needs a blanket, itâÄôs all right because I have it.âÄù Another gem was Ivy K., who reportedly stole baby clothes, car seats and playpens from neighborhood trash cans to prepare for a child. While the public previously admonished these teenage women, finding ways to pigeonhole them in a sort of untouchable class of trailer park Americans, MTV reality shows âÄú16 and PregnantâÄù and âÄúTeen MomâÄù humanize teenage couples and actually follow the emotional trajectory that comes with making decisions about children. How, pray tell, are these teenagers arranging sexual forays when they donâÄôt even have driverâÄôs permits? Though itâÄôs possible teenagers are knocking boots in mall bathrooms under the guise of looking for Teen Vogue, TyraâÄôs study found about 15 percent of students actually have sex at school. The flood of research around the loss of virginity is pulling out all the conventional wisdom to explain the, letâÄôs call it precociousness, of teenage sex. One Japanese study found teenagers that skip breakfast lose their V-card an average of two and a half years earlier than those that partake. Talk about the most important meal of the day. Complicating this issue, the influx of social media and texting among middle schoolers has opened the flood gates for seemingly harmless self-exploration. But along with trashy new channels for sex talk, technology provides a way for teens to educate themselves without initiating an awkward parent talk. But can they find info they can trust? âÄúThere are a lot of great resources on the Internet,âÄù Riley said, âÄúbut there is just enough bad information out there.âÄù And there appears to be no good way to find out where teens are getting their sex education from. Even though daytime talk shows like âÄúGood Morning, AmericaâÄù and âÄúThe ViewâÄù have gone overboard on segments about how to police âÄúsextingâÄù (so far as to invent acronyms parents can watch for, like âÄúDURS:âÄù damn, u r sexy), âÄúsextingâÄù appears to have become a substitute for what their parents might have found in the back of a video store at that age. In January, three Pennsylvania girls were actually arrested for taking nude photos of themselves and sending them to various people. The charges were filed under child pornography laws. Say what you will about the skewing of the law in this instance, but this is a new type of self-exploration that could end up devastating teens later in life. âÄúTalk about combining the no boundaries attitudes of social networking with antiquated laws,âÄù said Riley. Sadly, most of the âÄúblameâÄù for this phenomenon is laid at the feet of teenage girls, with research dollars being pumped directly into finding out exactly what has gotten into the supposedly once pure young maidens. âÄúThat same double-standard still exists,âÄù Riley said, warning that hyper-masculinity is also now being imposed on young men. Some researchers are finding ways to point fingers at changing biological clocks. In 2006, CNN reported an increasing number of girls are hitting puberty by the age of 8, with some girls showing âÄúsymptomsâÄù by the age of 4 or 5. Riley said these numbers have shifted, but not as dramatically as most people believe. Frequently, these problems have to do with genetic factors or a surge in environmentally-based thyroid disorders. While researchers and health professionals are working to understand the minds of young women, perhaps we will never truly understand the secret life of American teenagers. Sorry, ABC Family.