Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Volume 42, Number 3, September 2010

Sexual Intercourse and Oral Sex Among Public Middle School Students: Prevalence and Correlates

By Christine J. De Rosa, Kathleen A. Ethier, Deborah H. Kim, William G. Cumberland, Abdelmonem A. Afifi, Jenny Kotlerman, Richard V. Loya, Peter R. Kerndt

CONTEXT: Early sexual initiation is associated with elevated teenage pregnancy and STD risk, yet little is known about the prevalence and correlates of sexual behavior among young adolescents. Better information is needed to guide interventions to prevent early sexual debut.

METHODS: Data from a 2005 survey of 4,557 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students at 14 urban public schools in Southern California were analyzed using chi-square tests and logistic regression, to identify correlates of oral sex, intercourse and both.

RESULTS: Overall, 9% of youth had ever had sexual intercourse, and 8% had had oral sex. Three percent reported having had oral sex only, 4% intercourse only and 5% both. Among those who reported intercourse, 69% had used a condom at last intercourse, and 43% had had multiple partners. Being male, being black and having at least one friend who had ever been involved in a pregnancy were positively associated with having had intercourse only and both intercourse and oral sex (odds ratios, 1.7–4.2). Being in eighth grade, expecting to have intercourse in the next six months and currently having a boyfriend or girlfriend were positively associated with all three outcomes (2.1–7.2). Intercourse and oral sex were highly correlated.

CONCLUSIONS: Interventions addressing oral sex, intercourse and multiple partners should begin before sixth grade and continue throughout the middle school years. Health professionals should target adolescent risk reduction counseling toward males, blacks, youth with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and those with a friend who has been involved in a pregnancy.




Christine J. De Rosa is coinvestigator and project director, and Deborah H. Kim is project coordinator— both with Health Research Association, Los Angeles. Kathleen A. Ethier is project officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Division of STD Prevention, Behavioral Interventions and Research Branch, Atlanta. William G. Cumberland is professor and chair, Department of Biostatistics. Abdelmonem A. Afifi is dean emeritus and professor of biostatistics—both with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), School of Public Health. Jenny Kotlerman is data manager, UCLA School of Nursing. Richard V. Loya is health teacher advisor, Los Angeles Unified School District. Peter R. Kerndt is director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Sexually Transmitted Diseases Program.