Sex between adolescents in romantic relationships is often harmless to their academics

Aug 15, 2010

The context in which adolescent sexual activity occurs can substantially moderate the negative relationship between sexual intercourse and education, according to research to be presented at the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

"Compared to abstinence, sexual intercourse in committed romantic relationships is often academically harmless, whereas in other types of relationships it is more detrimental," said Bill McCarthy and Eric Grodsky, sociologists at the University of California-Davis and the University of Minnesota, respectively. "Females and males who have sex only with are generally similar to abstainers on most of the education measures we examined."

Titled, "Sex and School: Adolescent and Education," the study considers nine education measures:

  1. school attachment,
  2. high school GPA,
  3. college aspiration,
  4. college expectations,
  5. problems in school,
  6. ever truant,
  7. the number of days truant,
  8. school sanctions (suspended/expelled), and
  9. dropping out.
The analysis uses two waves of data from the "National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health" and the "Adolescent Health Academic Achievement Study."

Compared to abstainers who are otherwise similar to who have sex, youth who have sex only with partners with whom they are not romantically involved are at greater risk on the following measures:

  1. experiencing problems in school,
  2. being suspended or expelled,
  3. being less likely to expect to attend college,
  4. being less attached to school, and
  5. earning lower grades.
In contrast, youth who have sex only with romantic partners are not statistically different from virgins on any of these five measures, adjusting for other characteristics of the students. The only outcomes for which youth engaging in either type of sex are at greater risk than abstainers are truancy and, in some contexts, dropping out.

"Collectively, our results find that the detrimental outcomes commonly attributed to adolescent sexual intercourse occur mostly in non-romantic contexts," said McCarthy and Grodsky. "These findings raise doubts about the veracity of sexual education programs that link adolescent to a plethora of negative outcomes."

Explore further: Many primary care patients will use personal health records

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Teens in Love Do Less Crime

Jan 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Teenagers in love may be less likely to get mixed up in crime and substance abuse, according to new UC Davis research. But while romantic love seems to help keep teens law-abiding, casual sex can mean trouble.

TV: Not the only channel to early sex

Nov 24, 2008

Watching plenty of television combined with low self-esteem, poor relationships with parents, and low academic achievement are some of the factors that may add up to young people having sex before the age of 15. Alternatively, ...

Recommended for you

Study highlights concern for homeless seniors

2 hours ago

A new study for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, co-authored by researchers at the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University, has found that a disproportionate number of people chronically staying ...

Mateship key to boosting resilient youth

2 hours ago

Having a supportive friend who is connected to their family and greater community can be the critical factor that protects and promotes resilience in vulnerable Aboriginal youth, according to research from ...

Here's to wine, chocolate and a long, healthy life

4 hours ago

Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122, remains the oldest person on record. One might assume that she led a faultless, healthy lifestyle. Not at all. Every year on her birthday, as her celebri ...

Experts discuss communications gap on vaccines

5 hours ago

The number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children is on the rise, and with it the incidence of preventable diseases such as measles. The health community could reverse the trend by doing a better ...

User comments : 0