Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 6-2006

Journal / Book Title

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health


The study provides empirical evidence of the independent contribution of nonsexual romantic relationships in the seventh grade to the onset of sexual intercourse by the ninth grade for both males and females. In addition, it shows that among females, seventh graders in serious relationships with older teenagers—uniquely defined as those two or more years older—have an increased likelihood of sex in the ninth grade. Finally, the study demonstrates that seventh graders of both genders who have had serious romantic relationships were already significantly different in the sixth grade from those who have not: They had peers who were more accepting of sexual activity, they had experienced more unwanted sexual advances and situations that could lead to sex (i.e., where parental monitoring is limited) and, for females, they had undergone earlier menarche. The findings suggest important aspects of the pathways to early sexual intercourse that have not typically been addressed in either school or parentbased sex education programs.


DOI: 10.1363/psrh.38.112.06

Published Citation

Lieberman, Lisa D. "Early predictors of sexual behavior: implications for young adolescents and their parents." Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 38, no. 2 (2006): 112-114.