Using survey data from high school students, this fact sheet presents findings from recent Child Trends research examining whether having sexual intercourse before age 16 with a partner at least three years older was associated with becoming a teen or unmarried parent or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease (STD) by young adulthood (post-high school through the early twenties). Overall, the findings highlight the need for parents and programs to address and promote healthy sexual behaviors not only among young teens, but also among older teens and young adults.
- “This study adds to a growing body of evidence that the combination of having sex at a young age and having an older sexual partner is particularly risky, especially for STDs among females. When young teen girls have an older sexual partner, there may be unequal power dynamics that lead to less consistent condom use and a greater risk of an STD.”
- “The combination of having sex at a young age and with an older partner is linked to an especially high risk of an STD for girls. Female teens who have sex before age 16 with a partner at least three years older are twice as likely as other females to test positive for an STD in young adulthood.”
- “Female teens who have sex with an older partner are more likely to acquire a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and to have a nonmarital birth in young adulthood than females with a similar-age partner.”
Citation: Ryan, S., Franzetta, K., Manlove, J., & Schelar, E. (2008) Teens and older sexual partners: new research points to long-term negative consequences. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Washington, D.C.: Child Trends