Why is it Wrong to Have Sex at 12?

I was congratulated on a question I answered close to 10 years ago, from a student in my Homework Assistance area of America Online. Since I wasn’t sure whether the question was meant to be a real cry for help or an obnoxious message board rambling, I chose to give a serious response. My feeling was that if someone had the question, others did, too. Perhaps a child you know and love would like to read it.

Q. Why is it wrong to have sex as 12?

A. Well, the fact that you are asking means you are already thinking about it. I’m not going to lecture, because it will make me sound like a “grown-up” and that’s the last person you want to hear from. What you are asking for are reasons, so here goes:

At 12, You can’t be absent from school without your parents’ permission, and you couldn’t afford an apartment even if landlords could rent to 12 year olds. In fact, you can’t enter into any type of legal contract until you turn 18.

You probably don’t have your own bank account. If you have a savings account, you need your parents’ permission and/or signature to withdraw money, and you still need them to take you to the bank. Remember, you can’t enter into contracts, so you can’t borrow money from a bank. You can’t afford to buy all your own clothes and you can’t even get into movies rated PG-13 legally.

If you are sick, a doctor can’t treat you without the permission of your parents unless you have a medical release form (permission slip) which names people who can give their “OK” for you to be treated. If you can’t be treated without your parents’ permission, your baby can’t be treated without their permission either (even if you are the mother, you won’t be able to give your permission).

Consider this example: Someone I know was 17 when she went away on a ski weekend. She owned her own car, had her own skis, made all the plans for the weekend, and paid for it herself. While she was getting dressed to ski, she gashed her hand on the bindings of the ski boots and needed stitches. She drove herself to the hospital and had to sit there, with her hand in a towel, for over an hour while the doctors tried to call her parents for permission to treat her. She was 150 miles away from home. The doctors needed permission to treat her, and she was “almost” 18 – the age when she didn’t need his permission. Why am I telling you this?

Whenever you have sex, you run the chance of becoming pregnant. If you are female, you can become pregnant even before your first period has started. If you are male, you must be prepared to buy condoms every time you have sex. Not only must you have the money (about 50 cents or $1 each), but you must be able to buy them without embarrassment and use them every time.

If you are female, you must have condoms available in case the boy you have sex with doesn’t have any. Not only that, you must be able to force him to use them; it only takes one time to get pregnant, contract an STD, or worse, contract HIV/AIDS3.

This leads to the next reasons. Are you ready to be a mother (or a father)? Every time you have sex, you must make the decision. If you get pregnant, there are decisions that everyone else will be making for you because you are too young to make them yourself. Whether or not you want to, your parents can try to force you to have an abortion. If your parents choose, they can try to force you to give your baby up for adoption. You’d have to find a court advocate to step in to help you keep the baby. However, even if you are allowed to keep the baby, you can’t force your parents to raise it.

Can you support a baby? According to some statistics, it costs between $125,000 and $250,000 to raise a child to age 18 (not counting college tuition)2 if the child is healthy. Babies born to young mothers often have serious medical problems that can cost thousands (or millions) of dollars.

Did you know that if a girl becomes pregnant, the father is legally responsible to pay child support for 18 years? Even if you used a condom, even if she said she couldn’t get pregnant, or even if she says she never wants to see you again, the boy that fathered the baby is, and will be, responsible for the next 18 years. Anyone (you, your partner, either sets of parents) can request a DNA sample to determine paternity, and just because you don’t want someone to be the father doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

There are laws in this country regarding statutory rape. Statutory rape means that someone over the age of consent has sex with someone under the age of consent.4 Even if the younger person says “yes,” or lies about his/her age, it’s a sentence punishable by jail time. Once your parents find out and, believe me, they will, most will file rape charges. Also, in some states, anyone can file the charges. This would include your teacher; your minister, priest or rabbi; either set of parents; a concerned brother or sister, etc.

There seems to be a generation growing up completely unaware of the science of sexual reproduction (how babies are born). If you’ve watched any TV, you’ve seen talk shows where girls are 100% sure that someone is the baby’s father, and then find out that they are wrong. Some have to bring two, three, or more (I saw one that brought on over 5) different boys, and at least in this case, she was wrong every time. I even saw one show where the boy said the baby couldn’t be his, because he spoke Spanish and the baby (aged 3 weeks) didn’t. This tells me that EVERYONE needs a lesson in sex education.

Sweetheart, put thoughts of sex on a back burner until you are old enough to carry this responsibility. Chances are, this letter has scared you into at least thinking twice before doing it. Kissing is not sex, there is nothing wrong with kissing, but you are still very young at 12. Use this time to be a kid. Paint, dance, ride your bike, learn to play drums, do anything you want.

The only thing worse than having sex at 12 is being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at 13 and dying before 183.

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