Archive for Monday, August 16, 2010

Teen sex not always bad for grades

August 16, 2010

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— There’s good news for parents who worry that their teenagers’ sex lives are affecting their school performance: A provocative new study has found that teens in committed relationships do no better or worse in school than those who don’t have sex.

The same isn’t true for teens who “hook up.” Researchers found that those who have casual flings get lower grades and have more school-related problems compared with those who abstain.

The findings, presented Sunday at a meeting of the American Sociological Association in Atlanta, challenge to some extent assumptions that sexually active teens tend to do poorer in school.

It’s not so much whether a teen has sex that determines academic success, the researchers say, but the type of sexual relationship they’re engaged in. Teens in serious relationships may find social and emotional support in their sex partners, reducing their anxiety and stress levels in life and in school.

“This should give some comfort to parents who may be concerned that their teenage son or daughter is dating,” said sociologist Peggy Giordano of Bowling Green State University, who had no role in the research. Teen sex is “not going to derail their educational trajectories,” she said.

Last year, nearly half of high school students reported having sexual intercourse, and 14 percent have had four or more partners, according to a federal survey released this summer.

For the study, University of California, Davis sociologist Bill McCarthy and University of Minnesota sociologist Eric Grodsky analyzed surveys and school transcripts from the largest national follow-up study of teens that began during the 1994-95 academic year. The researchers said not much has changed in terms of when teens first have sex or attitudes toward teen sex in the past decade.

The duo examined how teens’ sexual behaviors affected their learning and controlled for factors that might influence their results.

Among the findings:

• Teens in serious relationships did not differ from their abstinent counterparts in terms of their grade-point average, how attached they are to school or college expectations. They were also not more likely to have problems in school, be suspended or absent.

• Compared with virgins, teens who have casual sex had lower GPAs, cared less about school and experienced more problems in school. For example, female teens who have flings had GPAs that were 0.16 points lower than abstinent teens. Male teens who have casual sex had GPAs that were 0.30 points lower than those who do not have sex. Teens who hook up also were at greater risk of being suspended or expelled and had lower odds of expecting to go to college.

• Teens who have sex — whether it’s a serious or casual relationship — were at higher risk of being truant and dropping out compared with teens who don’t have sex. The researchers said the dropout results should be interpreted with caution because the numbers were small.

“Having sex outside of a romantic relationship may exacerbate the stress youths experience, contributing to problems in school,” Grodsky said.

Comments

make_a_difference 4 years, 10 months ago

It's quite possible that teens (and adults) who have issues/stress in their lives may be more likely to have casual sex. Using sex as an escape. Not that casual sex contributes to problems, but that it's a piece of a much larger picture.

booyalab 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree, I think that it's often a symptom. But on the other hand, teenagers are technically brain damaged. So I don't think it can be overstated that they are a dumber version of their adult selves. When it's said, usually by the teen himself, that a teenager is mature for his age. I think it's more a feature of good parenting, with imposed limits on the kid's behavior, than some miraculous rapid acceleration of the maturation process.

number3of5 4 years, 10 months ago

Sex without marriage is wrong no matter how you state it. If this world keeps relaxing its standards of morals, we will continue to suffer the consequences.

imastinker 4 years, 10 months ago

What is a fact is that teens (specifically girls) don't understand the emotions involved with sex and can get trapped in relationships that are not good for them or hold them back from achieving what they are capable of. Not to mention pregnancy.

I just went to my class reunion and was shocked at how many people "settled" for a partner. I have always thought that sex has a lot to do with this, as it makes a person form emotions about the other person that maybe wouldn't otherwise be there. It's just my opinion though.

HaRDNoK9 4 years, 10 months ago

"...But Dad, Lawrence Journal World dot com says it is okay as long as we are committed to each other. Little Jimmy and I ARE committed to each other! We ARE in love and we are gonna move in together and have a baby! My grades won't suffer, the newspaper did a study!" Thanks for that in advance!

denak 4 years, 10 months ago

People need to relax. This article is in no way condoning teen sex. It is merely pointing out, that for some teens, who are in a committed relationship, that sex will not always lead to the doom and gloom scenario that some people want to promote.

Personally, I know of a few couples while in high school who were in committed sexual relationships. I can think of 4 of them right off the bat. Rather than destroying their lives, they supported each other, went on to college, stayed together, and who are all now, celebrating anywhere from 15-20 years of marriage.

And yes, of course, there were those, who had sex to early and reaped some negative consequences. I can also think of two couples, where at least one of the people was a virgin, and who are now divorced.

I think it depends on the couple. The article isn't saying that teens should have sex, only that for some, it won't spell academic disaster.

Dena

HaRDNoK9 4 years, 10 months ago

The article also goes on to say: "Teens who have sex — whether it’s a serious or casual relationship — were at higher risk of being truant and dropping out compared with teens who don’t have sex."

Even if I did interpret dropouts with caution, (just because the numbers are small) and ignore the fact that they are increased, I do not want my kids running around being truant, either. The headline is an all out lie. How does increased truancy and dropout rate not affect a child's GPA? Do you have an answer to that? If a child is truant, their scores are not counted, tests are not taken. There is no way that one does not affect the other.

Really? You can think of 4 couples who were in committed sexual relationships in High School? Did your graduating class have 20 people in it or something? My graduating class had 700 people in it. I can think of 40 couples whose lives and GPA were totally messed up over teen pregnancy. I can think of 15 kids right off the bat that died from AIDS. Nothing like a little death, (or childbirth) to mess up a GPA!

It is an irresponsible article from beginning to end. It wants to talk about GPA not being affected by sexual behaviors and it simply is not true. Having sex can have side effects that will "exacerbate the stress youths experience." Unless you want to ignore the teen pregnancies, or the fact that half of our sexually active youth will contract an std by age 25 http://www.sadd.org/stats.htm Other CDC surveys conclude that 23% of sexually active youth also drink alcohol or use drugs prior to having sex, and that 32% of them admit to not using condoms even though 87% have been exposed to prevention education. And the list goes on and on.

Half of all new STD infections go to adolescents. That is 9.5 million infected teens every year. That number from the center for disease control http://www.ashastd.org/pdfs/ASHA_05.final.pdf (page 5) is staggering enough all by itself to make an argument that not only is this article irresponsible, it is also potentially genocidal.

Relax if you want to. That's not for me when it comes to seeing the bigger picture for the future of my children.

booyalab 4 years, 10 months ago

What kind of jerky parent thinks, "oh god, my kid is having sex. WHAT IF I DON'T GET AN HONOR ROLE BUMPER STICKER?!?" Aren't there plenty of other legitimate reasons than that? Oh I don't know, like, what if my kid has a baby and I have to take care of it because the government doesn't allow him to work more than 15 hours a week? Or what if some older scummy pervert takes advantage of her? What if he gets a disease? What if she/he discovers that sex is more fun than pretty much anything and turns into a wayward deadbeat?

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