One misconception is that most of these relationships involve forced sexual experiences, Scott says.
“Our research does suggest that young teens with older partners are twice as likely to report these sexual relationships as ’non-voluntary,’ or that they didn’t choose to have sex of their own free will,” she says.
Teen boys and girls feel pressure to have sex for different reasons, but engaging in sexual activity is a means of validation for both.A 14-year-old dating a 17-year-old might be perfectly innocent but those who counsel adolescents warn that an age difference as little as three years can be cause for concern.To a young girl, dating an older guy can raise her status among friends, says Steven Kairys, MD, chair of pediatrics at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and an expert on adolescent relationships. You’re not going to a get a true picture about someone’s lifestyle in a month; give yourself a few months of dating to make sure that you’ve seen him or her in as many real-life situations as possible. Rather than asking him or her such questions directly, lay low and gather your information over time.At this age, teens are very impressionable and prone to peer pressure.” Teens who have an older partner are more likely to have sex at an early age compared to those dating someone about the same age, says Mindy Scott, Ph D, deputy program area director of Reproductive Health and Family Formation at Child Trends, the nation’s leading nonprofit research organization focused on improving the lives of children, youth and their families.Having sex with an older partner at a young age is also linked to reduced contraceptive use, and higher risk of both teen pregnancy and acquiring a sexually transmitted disease (STD).The Jersey Battered Women’s Service (JBWS) offers a checklist of some dating red flags that both teens and parents should know about: • Your partner is possessive. • You can never be yourself around your partner without negative consequences. Kairys suggests teens create a code word they can use to text their parents if they’re in an uncomfortable or scary situation, like being at a party where people are drinking excessively, doing drugs or getting out of control.“One of the most important things parents can convey to their kids is that they’re always going to be there for them,” he says.Kairys suggests parents avoid direct confrontation. Instead, he recommends asking teens about their observations and opinions.“Conversations about dating should take place before kids start dating,” he says.