Parents often worry about their daughters having an older boyfriend. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, it turns out they have good reason to be worried. Here's just one example:
Kayla is 14. Her boyfriend is 18.
Kayla says, "I have to admit, because I am dating an older guy, you know, I am very more open to alcohol, just because, I can ask him, 'Hey can you go to the store and buy me something?'"
Kayla says another risk of dating an older guy might be getting pressured into having sex. She says, "I think a lot of guys especially in high school will go for younger girls just because they'll give it up, you know. They are willing to experiment, they are easier."
New research shows one in four girls who have had sex say their first time was with a guy at least three years older.
Kayla says, "When guys are older, girls will trust them: 'Oh, he knows what he's talking about. He has more experience.'"
The research shows that, with an older boy, girls are less likely to use a condom and more likely to get pregnant than other sexually active teens. So, frequently the younger girl is naïve. Sometimes she doesn't have the assertiveness to stand up for herself and demand that a condom be used.
Studies also show that, on average, girls who lost their virginity to an older boy ended up having more sexual partners than girls whose first time was with someone their own age. They frequently will start feeling like damaged goods, or that they are down a road sexually that they weren't ready to go down, but there's no going back. So, they will frequently then go onto another relationship with an older guy. Research also shows 10% of sexually active boys lose their virginity to a girl at least three years older, and that they, too, face damaging effects to their health.
Parents can set ground rules (e.g., teens can only date someone who is one grade level above them). You want to have your children talking to you about who they are interested in, who they think is cute, and who they have their eyes on. If you are having good communication with your teens, you get those clues a long time before they come home and say they have a boyfriend who's 18.