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19 December 2011
Adolescent sex parties a concern, say medicos
by George Atkinson

One in 13 adolescent girls report having a group-sex experience, leading public health officials to voice concerns about potentially damaging sexual behaviors.

The new report, appearing in the Journal of Urban Health, examined the sex lives of more than 300 females aged 14-20 who had utilized a Boston-area community or school health clinic. The survey explored whether they had ever had sex with multiple partners - either consensual or forced. The report authors refer to this as "multi-person sex" (MPS), meaning any group sex experience - from gang rape to sex parties.

Worryingly, of those who said they had MPS, more than half reported being pressured to engage in the group-sex situation and half reported a lack of condom use by a male participant. The researchers also identified a correlation between participants in MPS and dating violence, victimization and being diagnosed with a STD.

The study found that the average age of the first MPS experience was 15.6 years old. The majority of those who reported group sex activity said it was a one-time experience, while 21 percent had multiple group-sex experiences. One-third reported using alcohol or drugs prior to their most recent experience, but half of those girls reported that their alcohol or drug use was not voluntary. "The majority of MPS-experienced girls in this sample reported being pressured, threatened, coerced, or forced to participate in MPS at least once," noted BU researcher Emily Rothman.

While there has been considerable research on adult group sex and its association with STD transmission, relatively little attention has been given to adolescent MPS encounters. The researchers note a recent study of high-school girls in the Northeast that found that sex parties are currently an "accepted activity" of a certain subset of teens.

Rothman said her study was only designed to estimate the prevalence and potential health risks of adolescent multi-partner sex, in the hope that it would prompt further research. "Group sex among youth is an important public health topic that has received very little attention to date," she said. "It is crucial to know how this early experience shapes their sexual behavior trajectory and affects their lifetime risk for negative sexual, reproductive, and other health risk behaviors."

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Source: Boston University Medical Center

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