Hi Adventurers, there’s a question that’s been niggling me all week and I wanted to ask you guys . How early is too early for kids to have sex & what age is it appropriate for people to start having sex?
Let me tell you how the question came up. I’ve been trying to be the cool aunt that I never had to my nieces & nephews. When I was growing up, people were not very open about sex & I didn’t have any auntie to tell me the truth about sex. I grew up in a time when the only thing we heard about sex were lectures from teachers about how we should keep our virginity otherwise we could a. get pregnant b. get AIDS (not HIV, I mean full-blown AIDS! Such drama!) or c. never get any man to marry us. I was also taught that masturbation was evil- you could get blind from that stuff you know! Oh and don’t think I learnt anything about sex from movies either! Ghanaian movies didn’t have the erotic scenes they have today. Those were the days when GTV would put a big, fat, red ‘18’ sign at the top of the screen whenever a movie scene featured a couple on a bed. The painful part was that they didn’t do squat on that bed! Lol. And American movies that were shown after hours were cropped to remove sex scenes. Yes! As soon as things started getting steamy, there’d be a commercial break and you knew that things would never be the same when you returned! Hahaha.
So fast-forward several years since my heady teens and I’m now an adult with nieces and nephews of my own but no kids yet. I have decided to be open with my nieces & nephews about sex (in a manner appropriate for their age). So this month, when my 11 year old ‘Americano’ niece started telling me about her classmates who were giving blowjobs to guys & 2 girls who were shagging the same guy (& knew the guy was dating them both)… Whew! I didn’t know how to react. Should I be cool with it or should I be worried? I don’t know, am I being a prude for feeling that kids should be allowed to be kids and that age 11 to 16 or even 18 is supposed to be about the following: discovering masturbation & the miracle that’s called your clit (if you’re a girl) or your dick (if you’re a man); making out with your crushes; puppy love; having wet dreams & fantasies, crying because some cute guy or girl ignored you, getting to 1st base and trying desperately to get to 2nd base but certainly NOT about hitting a home run ?
Her school counselors have told the kids that there’s nothing wrong with them having sex but they should use protection. I’m in a dilemma about how to feel. On the one hand, I don’t think my upbringing was the best & someone recently told me that one of the reasons why lots of married African women are angry & frustrated & the men are forever cheating is that we’re not allowed to sow our wild oats when we’re young but are pressured with this virginity thing. I think that’s true. My puritanical upbringing didn’t empower me to own my sexuality. So I don’t want that for my niece or any child. But on the other hand, I wonder whether my niece’s friends are being empowered to own their sexuality when she tells me daily about the self esteem issues they have with their bodies because these guys who are screwing them tell them that they want a ‘Nicki Minaj’ look-alike? And whether it’s empowerment when it’s the girls lining up to suck on the boys’ dicks but it’s not the guys lining up in their numbers to lick the girls’ vajayjays? I mean even as adults, don’t we feel broken hearted when you shag a guy & he doesn’t call or he introduces you as ‘just a friend’? I wonder if my niece & her friends are ready to deal with all that? And what happens if/when one of the 11 year olds becomes pregnant since no contraceptive is 100 percent effective? Are they ready to deal with the emotional fallout of having an abortion or having the kid? And if we don’t allow adults to screw kids younger than 16 (in Ghana) or 18 (in Nigeria) because we believe that kids at that age can’t deal with the emotional elements of having sex, is it not hypocritical to expect that they can deal with the emotional implications of screwing each other at that age? What do you think? At what age did you have consensual sex for the first time and what age should kids have it? When would you be okay with your own child having sex (Be honest! lol).
25 comments On Should kids have sex?
Nooo! I first had sex at 23. In uni.
But for my kids I had suggest they wait till about 20 at least. Kids even kissing sounds so out of line. Parents must be very vigilant lately. Too much going on with kids at school.
Wow. I am all for sexual education but to tell 11 year olds that its ok to have sex as long as they use condoms is insanity. Like you said, condoms aren’t foolproof, so what happens if one of these 5th graders comes up pregnant?!? You are a stronger person than me because if an 11 year old came up to me talking about her friends giving BJs and sleeping with boys i most certainly would have fainted lol. I don’t even think i knew what a BJ was when i was 11. At that age, getting a kiss on the lips was a big deal.
I would ideally want my kids to wait until they are at least out of high school and can reasonably take care of themselves should the need arise before they start having sex. But realistically, i expect them to wait until they are in the mid to late teens.
Ekuba, I have to give it to you, this one has left me googly eyed. My eyeballs are falling out of their sockets for a number of reasons, listed below.
1.) Telling an eleven year old CHILD that there is nothing wrong with them having sex, so long as protection is used, is NOT synonymous with sexual empowerment. With empowerment comes a heightened sense of awareness, that these KIDS do not have! They may know what the word sex means, and even how to engage in it, but to tell me they understand fully sex and sexuality matters, and the consequences thereof would be a cruel joke.
2.) Where are the parents of these ones that are going to school to be blowjob educated?! Youngin’s are out here getting PHD’s in blowjobs, instead of learning their ABC’s….Again I ask, where are the parents?
3.) My own child having sex? When he or she is married. If at eleven it is happening, eh, their time on earth would become numbered on the day of me learning that.
4.) Though we are brought up consertively back in Africa, eh I would much rather that, than my kid at ELEVEN years of age telling me tales of blow job escapades. My heart would stop beating immediately. Kids in America are NOT sexually empowered more than their counterparts in Africa. The word is EXPOSED not empowered. They are exposed to a lot of sex. It is not good oo.
In closing, we should address sex and sexuality matters, but to give CHILDREN free will, heiiii is too much! If those counselors counselled my child like that I’d recounsel them with my own counsel.
@ Purple Tussle: lol, I like the way you said ‘Noooo’!Thank you. Medaase, there’s way too much going on with kids these days- it’s like they’re not even being given the chance to be just kids
@ Lady Ngo: Trust me, I’m not strong at all! I almost imploded when she told me about her friends given BJs and I had to keep myself from like gagging. But I just had to keep it cool so that she will feel free to open up to me about anything (because she hasnt told her mum about the bj thing can you imagine?). you’re totally right 11 years is too young.
@AM: lol, I always burst out laughing when I read your comments. You’re soooo like dramatic in the way you write it makes it hilarious & very enjoyable to read. I wish I could meet you to see if that’s also the way you talk cos then it would be such fun to hang out with you lol. ok back to the topic at hand, you make some very true points and the point I love best is this one ‘being exposed is definitely not the same as being empowered’! I think people tend to confuse the two things sometimes
@Ekuba – Wow, this was my conversation with my Mum today. She was telling me about a news report from the Central Region of Ghana about children having sex, and often multiple sex partners (amongst themselves). Was also saying that for the girls sex was transactional so for e.g. they would get GHC2 (approx $1) per sexual intercourse, so that was part of their reasons for having multiple partners so they would make more money.
I was saying to my Mum that I suspect a lot of these children were sexually abused by adults at an early age which is why they have become sexualised at an early age. Even from this site we know that a lot of (Ghanaian) women have experienced child sexual abuse. A friend of mine also recently finished a nationwide study on child sexual abuse and she says the results are horrific. She has agreed to share the final report with me as soon as it gets published so I shall let you guys know the key findings.
So to answer some of the questions you asked. I first had consensual penetrative sex at the age of 22.I think in an ideal world children should be matured before they have sex and that age differs for everyone but let me go with 18+. I would hope that I would be the kind of parent that their child would feel comfortable talking to about sex so I can answer their questions as they grow so they are learning about their own bodies in a ‘natural’, continuous manner
@ Nana Darkoa: eiii, this is the first time I’m reading about Nana Darkoa’s mum! If she’s anything like you, she must be one hell of a lady! Hmm, the central region thing is sooo sad. I’m a proud Fante myself (shout out to all my fellow Fantes reading this! yay!) so I’m from the central region & the sad thing is that although it’s like the bedrock of education in Ghana & has produced people like Kofi Annan & Kwegyir Aggrey, it has consistently had a high teenage pregnancy rate & a high school drop out rate. Your comment made me think about the fact that instead of just being comfortable in my life, maybe I should think hard about mentoring some girls from my hometown or any other town in the central region. My own mother mentored a girl & the difference was dramatic- the girl had no intentions of going to a tertiary institution but with encouragement from my mom, she ended up getting the highest grade in her college at KNUST!
I think children nowadays are faced with alot of exposure around sex as recreational – they see it in the movies, videos, trailers on YouTube, etc. Therefore, what is age appropriate or not becomes blurred in their eleven year old world view.
All children especially teenagers (I cannot be age specific here) should be equipped with the skills to negotiate safely how to say NO and mean it when under pressure from their peers to engage in sex.
Here in Lagos, we are seeing a raise in young girls engaging in anal sex because they are aware of remaining virgins, stds, hiv/aids but not aware of the implications of anal sex and stds therein.
It is complicated by poverty, childcare arrangements – the various uncles, aunties, maids or even relatives in the house who may or may not be accessing adult material and children watching it with them. Yep, we dealt with a case like this recently. Where the nanny was watching blue movie with the children all under 10 years.
Older teenagers, really do need constant support that they are not alone and should try and wait till they are 18 years. As a mother of a 16 old boy I can assure you it is extremely hard because, everybody is misbehaving. From the older aunties who want a bit of sugar puff puff to the young girls sending nude pictures of their genitalia to everyone.
There’s only so much you can do. You just want to know that you have equipped them with the skills to say NO.
My son constantly reminds me that “it is hard mum, the girls send you text messages asking you to sex them. When you say no they call you names”. My son is not an angel.
The emphasis is the ability to communicate with the child.
All humans are sexual from birth, if Freud to be believed.. we played nurse and doctor at age 5 – 6. Until kids start to associate sex with prurience, their sexual expression is quite natural. I remember my visit to Sweden – with my cool Swedish GF, part Jewish.. one of the first things I remarked on when we got their country house was the sight her naked under-5 year-old niece with a little flower stuck in her vagina.. I said to myself, this is a new world. Anyhow, this random stream of consciousness is to say that communication is key.. I don’t think we can forbid anything other than to follow kids everywhere.. which is the way to impart even more neurotic behavior….
@ Madam Butterfly: Yes, there is just too much exposure to sex these days and i think that’s what’s making the kids want to experiment. Yikes about the kids having anal sex thinking that’s safe! i’m sure they don’t use protection cos they think they wont get pregnant that way but that is so risky so far as STDs are concerned. Wow, i had no idea that girls are texting guys their nude photos these days. our time, you had to go to a studio to take a naked picture (some of my colleagues did that) but I guess with mobile phones now, people can easily take photos and send them in a second. wow, times have changed lol!
@ Kofi Ametewee: I think it makes lots of adults uncomfortable when they realize that humans are sexual from birth but it’s true. I saw a TED talk recently where a woman showed sonagrams of a baby in the womb making mastubatory movements (tugging at his penis consistently) lol, seems like people have been chilling in the womb too! hahaha! I know that my own grandmother was mortified when I would masturbate as a 3/4 year old & she’d yell at me to ‘stop doing that NOW’.
Sheesh. This is like my worst nightmare come true! I first had sex a month before my 14th birthday. It was awful. I wanted the whole shebang: flowers, candle light, silk sheets… what I ended up was a quick screw on the boys quarters floor with my 15 year old boyfriend.
I think 11 is waaay to young to be having sex. Forget the diseases you’re exposing yourself to and potential for getting pregnant… the emotional fall out is what hurts the most. This month you’re dating some guy and by the time summer vacation comes around he’s with some new chick. Next thing you know, you’re 11 year old niece is cutting herself. (That’s extreme, I know, but it happens!)
I can’t say when is the right time to be having sex, but for my own kids, I’ll inform them that it’s “right” when they can handle the repercussions of it. Sex is not all pleasure all the time. It’s serious business. Are you old enough to have a job with some health benefits? Then yeah, run out there and get you some sex. If not, put your face back in this book I bought you.
@ Malaka: And that is just the thing about girls having sex too young. Most of us came into our confidence later, became more assertive with age & learnt what we wanted in the bedroom (or out of it lol). So just like your experience, a teenage girl may want so many things out of sex- romance, kisses, all the stuff she reads in novels but if she’s not mature enough, she may not be able to confidently articulate this to her boyfriend and get them. Then what results is some sex that is highly unsatisfactory to her. For example, I highly doubt that my niece’s friends are dreaming of giving BJs to guys- maybe a few of them would but I’m a girl & I talk to my friends & I know most of us wanted loads of romance at that age not BJs. I could go on forever!
I will not promote sex for my kid until he can be responsible for its attendant issues. However I will not despise him if he slips and falls for it before he becomes capable of dealing with those attendant issues. For now my responsibility will be to educate him and help him develop a holistic appreciation of his body and that of the opposite sex, so as not to end up like my generation in which some men could only look at women as sex objects. Setting an age limit to start…I do not think I can realistically be a check on him, but only hope that with a good appreciation of what it is all about, how good or dangerous it could be in diverse circumstances, he will make better choices on that question as he grows. But then the truth is that this generation is fed too much ‘skin’ in the media and their pressures appear different, but should he end up understanding it better than I, and ending up doing it better than I, in circumstances, better than when I experimented at times I did not properly understand its worth, I’ll be pleased.
@Roots4Life – This sentence was everything, “For now my responsibility will be to educate him and help him develop a holistic appreciation of his body and that of the opposite sex, so as not to end up like my generation in which some men could only look at women as sex objects.” I hope more men will take up that attitude. Wishing you all the best in this goal.
@ Roots: you have got it right. Kids shouldn’t be encouraged to have sex till they can deal with its repercussions. Among all the advise I got from my teachers about sex, the best one was that ‘If you can’t afford to have a baby with someone, then don’t sleep with them’. But like you said, it’s important not to shun a child who makes the mistake of having sex too early. It’s better to give such a child firm love & listen to them & help them to get their act back together.
I would love to see the stats too. This is something that really concerns me a lot – Child Sexual Abuse. It was not till I 16 that I was able to open up to my eldest sister about my experience as a child, an experience that ran for about two years! and with that, i only opened up after they found out I had a 25 year old boyfriend who wasn’t just buying me ice cream.
I made poor choices mostly based on an early and twisted exposure to sex, and next to no education at all from home. It is very worrying. Very very worrying. The trauma of waking up one day after puberty starts and realizing you know things you don’t fully understand yet. For a moment I was not even sure of my sexual orientation. Till date I know for sure my parents will send me in for exorcism if they knew i’ve been in two same-sex relationships before. Now i’m older, wiser and more aware of my sexuality. But I had to go through too much to get here and I will definitely not let any child of mine go through the same thing.
I will educate them well. Sex is good but it has to be right. Most of us grew up being taught as if our bodies will never feel. Well what lies!! and bodies vary. I would want my kids to know their bodies well. and therefore know how to take care of themselves in order to avoid any premature unpleasant happenings. I am just too passionate about this. Thanks for sharing.
First of all Malaka, your last sentence damn near annihilated me! ‘Go get you some sex’, ‘Put you face back in this book I bought you.’ Hilarious!
Me, I was 19 and in hindsight I STILL shouldn’t have done it. I’ll comment fully later on computer.
@ Nnenna Marcia: still waiting for you to ‘comment fully later from your computer’. Same sentiments here. I had consensual sex for the first time at 23 if you’re using Bill Clinton’s definition for sex (ie: blowjobs dont count) but I gave my first blowjob when I was 19 & I wish I hadnt cos the guy turned out to be a jerk.
@ AK: I know right! I cant wait to see those stats myself.I feel you on the being confused about your sexual identity thing. My therapist told me sometimes that can happen when you’re abused. Like I’ve been walking around claiming I’m bi for the past month or two but sometimes I wonder if I really am or if it’s because I’ve been abused several times that I feel like I’d be more comfy with women. Also, the first time that I made out with a girl, I was like 5 or something but I started getting abused from age 4 so I don’t know if that stemmed from that. It’s sad really
First, I was a teenager when I had sex for the first time. No, 11 is too young period.
But I also feel that we need to look beyond the age issue. It doesn’t necessarily make it okay to have sex at ages 18, 22, 25, 30 either. Simply being an adult does not magically prepare a woman for the associated emotional burden of sex (especially the heavily socialized emotional baggage and societal crap that messes up women’s sexual spaces and well-being.
The issue for me is when are girls/women ready to handle what sex brings and what can we say or do to make them ready, physically, socially and mentally? Safe, enjoyable sexual lives is the endpoint.
Approaching from the age thing raises our fears and most parents parent out of an overwhelming, debilitating crippling fear!
Ekuba, the most important thing is that your niece is comfortable and safe with you to discuss things. Although she is 11, as you can tell from what her peers are doing, she is not too young for you to share your issues and feelings around your sexual journey with her. Pick and choose how much you want to share.
It’s a balancing act getting girls to postpone the age of first sexual encounter till they are good and ready. It requires loads of honesty, some lying and just a little itsy bit of scare tactics. Ideally, it should be a long process 🙂
We need to give girls room and reasons why they should postpone till it’s their time and not a minute before.
BTW, I’ve been thinking that it’s important to prepare the child for sex education somehow even from a young age so that one doesn’t look like a fraud when you sit down, when they are 14, to commence the sex education thing! Children are just so damn perceptive and can undermine your well-prepared efforts!
Kids are having sex anyway in Africa and all around the world I am more concerned about STD HIV Aids ands unwanted pregnancy. In UK some would not teach kids of any age about sex of any kind as they say it encourages them. I think the most important thing is for them to understand the consequences and not hurt each other in any way. The excuse that others do so I must was never right. Education must start earlier. I was never taught about sex in the 50’s and it took me years to make any kind of progress.
@ Kinna: you and my sister believe the same thing. She’s always said that age in itself doesnt determine maturity & so you cant pick like an age & say ok kids can have sex from this point. It varies from person to person. So someone may be mature at 18 while someone may be mature at 21. and you’re right about the having to consistently talk to a child about sex thing. My sister has done a great job about that. She’s been very open with her daughter about sex and I really respect her for that.
@ Mike: Yes, I think that not being thought about sex at all causes us to repress our feelings & it affects our attitudes towards sex. it’s unfortunate that people say they wont teach their kids about sex at all because it will ‘spoil’ them. Hello! we’re in the 21st century, that kid can go to school or the library, click her computer & see several pictures or videos of people having sex. So like you’re saying it’s important to explain the consequences of sex to kids so they dont hurt each other.
My mom thought it was important to tell me about sex from a very young age (like, 6) so I wouldn’t be clueless and vulnerable to what was going on around me. I knew the difference between rape and consentual sex and I knew (roughly) the dynamics of what went on during sex. When I was 11, most of my friends didn’t even know what a period was and I didn’t even have breasts yet. I first found out what a blowjob was when I was 13 from my mom and I was horrified, to say the least. Sex-ed has conditioned us into believing that if we have sex we WILL catch something or we WILL get pregnant. I think this, as well as the stigma around being pregnant at a really young age, petrified me more than anything. I think virginity is underrated nowadays and is quite rare among young girls (and boys) and sex has become such a blase topic. I think there is something terribly wrong with the system if counsellors are condoning kids having sex when majority of these little girls haven’t even had their period yet. I’d be infuriated if someone told my child that it’s ok to screw as long as they use protection!
@ Jen: I agree with so much of what you said. Virginity is underrated these days. To be honest, i think that sex is not all that & if I could do it all over again, I’d wait till I got married to have sex. That having been said, your mom did a good job in teaching you about sex & not just leaving you clueless. Thanks for your comments
This is gross misconduct on the part of this educator. It is unfortunate that people in higher authorities do not understand the impact of their negligence. I believe that sex education should start as early as the child is able to comprehend. We definitely can’t control when a person will make the choice to start having sex, but we can educate. Therefore, creating the knowledge for them to understand the consequences of their decisions.
Btw…..sex is the greatest creation from the creator himself. Waiting until marriage is a wonderful thing, if you married to the man of your dreams. Otherwise, sex becomes overrated by those that don’t have it.
just saw your comment lioness! you’re absolutely right. i think the educator was way out of order.
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