Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Teen Sex and School

The headline to Alicia Chang’s Associated Press story was "Teen Sex Not Always Bad For School Performance". This is based on reports from teen boys to their parents. Okay, not really – it is being reported by the American Sociological Association. But yeah, I would imagine it isn't bad for school performance if there is no tension, suspense, or coercion; no loss of reputation; no nasty rumors, pictures, or video of the deed circulating; no hearts broken, sexually transmitted infections, or pregnancy.

But how much teen sex really falls into that narrow category?

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.
Very, very few teens are in relationships that are, in fact, committed. Just because they are only having sex with one person over the course of a few weeks doesn't mean there is a commitment.

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.
What isn't a causal fling when you're sixteen?

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.
You can have that without sex.

"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.
Having a baby might. Or bleeding and infection from an abortion.

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.
This means that over half aren't having sexual intercourse. You’d never know that by listening to those who want to sexualize our youth. (Now, sure, a lot of the rest are doing other sexual things, but at least not intercourse.)

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.
Maybe the kind of teen who tends to be in "serious" relationships were able to attract someone else into that relationship because they already have those qualities.

Compared with virgins, teens who have casual sex had lower GPAs, cared less about school and experienced more problems in school.
Hmmm, I wonder why that wasn't the headline?

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.
Well of course. When do you think they're having the sex?

"Having sex outside of a romantic relationship may exacerbate the stress youths experience, contributing to problems in school," Grodsky said.
Huh huh... you said "exacerbate"... huh huh...

The study dispels the notion that all teen sex is bad, said Marie Harvey, professor of public health at Oregon State University.
Of course not all teen sex is bad. Some teens are married.

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