Pregnancy

Group Sex Among Teenagers ‘Is Happening,’ Says Study

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multi-colored condomsSome surprising numbers out of a new study that surveyed girls and young women using a Boston community health clinic or school health clinic. One in 13 girls, aged 13 to 20, who turned up for services had engaged in multiple-person sex (MPS). And more than half of them said that it was nonconsensual, making these encounters rape.

The pool was small of only 328 girls and women, and only 7.3% said that they and engaged in group sex. Yet half of these women said that they they had been forced¬† or threatened to participate by their partners. Emily Rothman, associate professor of community health sciences, added that 45% answered that one of their male partners had not used a condom. One-third of these young girls also reported that there had been drug use prior to encounter that was also involuntary, telling researchers that they were drugged or “liquored up” by their partner.

The majority of these ladies said that their multi-person sex experience, or rape for some of them who did not consent, was a one-time experience. However, the average age of their experience with group sex was only 15.6 years old — making these encounters illegal considering that Massachusetts’s’ age of consent is 16.

Pornography was also cited as a point of influence, as girls often mentioned that they were asked to perform acts that their partners had seen in porn — whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Authors of the study noted that “it is crucial to know how this early experience [of MPS] shapes their sexual behavior trajectory and affects their lifetime risk for negative sexual, reproductive, and other health risk behaviors.”

The study concludes that although there has been considerable research on MPS and HIV risks, as well as other STDs, very little attention has been offered to MPS in adolescents.

Rothman urges parents and doctors to acknowledge that group sex is occurring between teens, which needs to be addressed for the sake of their health and safety:

“Group sex among youth is an important public health topic that has received very little attention to date,” Rothman said. “It’s time for parents, pediatricians, federal agencies, and community-based organizations to sit up, pay attention, and take notice: group sex is happening, and we need to be prepared to address it.”

What’s even more concerning is that these young girls, or perhaps the researchers, are not addressing these “nonconsensual MPS encounters” as rape. Teens not only need an accurate understanding of HIV risks associated with MPS, they also need to understand the implications, legal and otherwise, of coercing and threatening their sex partners. Peer pressure over drugs and smoking among teens is one thing, but forcing sex acts on “liquored up” girls is a much bigger offense.

(photo: Shutterstock)