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Teens in Sexual Relationships Are Less Likely to Act Out

Teens in Sexual Relationships Are Less Likely to Act Out


Proponents of abstinence-until-marriage sex education may get a bit of an unwanted shock when they discover new research from psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin, which shows that romantic sexual relationships actually deter teens from acting out.  That’s right — sexually active teens, far from being disobedient delinquents, are more likely to be well-behaved.

According to the study, which was published in the June issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, showed that teens who were in sexually active dating relationships were less likely to display antisocial behavior than other groups.  Teens who were having sex in non-dating relationships (i.e., hooking up) were more likely to act out.

Paige Harden, one of the psychologists, explained that “these results may suggest that teens who spend more one-on-one time with their boyfriends or girlfriends, and less time with their friends, have fewer opportunities to get into trouble.”

The researchers looked at pairs of twins who differed in their sexual and dating experience in order to control for all background and genetic variations.  They wanted, according to Harden, to examine the potential benefits of teen sexual activity, and to give teens’ sexual relationships some more context.

As Anna North observes on Jezebel, the results shouldn’t be that shocking.  ”Of course, teens shouldn’t have sex before they feel ready,” she writes, “and they need to learn how to practice safer sex and seek help if a partner is pressuring or abusive. But it’s time to lay to rest the idea that having sex automatically turns teenagers into drug-snorting, knife-fighting hellions doomed to a life of crime.”

The theory that teens in relationships have less time to make trouble could also be supplemented by the idea that being in a committed sexual relationship actually benefits teenagers.  Imagine if that’s a message teenagers heard more often — they might be (gasp!) a little better-behaved.

Related Stories:

New York City Mandates Comprehensive Sex Education

Teen Pregnancy is “Contagious,” Study Says

At-Risk Youth Get Sex Ed and Abstinence Message With Affordable Care Act

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Photo from demibrooke via flickr.

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6:23AM PST on Mar 6, 2012

13 year olds are getting pregnant because their education is not right..if educated properly, they themselves will realise when to say no without having to force them like the idiots that do.

5:44PM PST on Nov 27, 2011

And this has nothing to do with the epidemic of 13 year old girls becoming pregnant and dropping into the system. Make sure they aren't late for orgy class...

10:45AM PST on Nov 14, 2011

Makes sense. And no, I don't think the message here is: encourage yourself (if you are a teen) or others to have sex and respectable behavior will follow. Commitment to one person at a time (as opposed to it being meaningless and random) is a potentially maturing experience.

5:51AM PDT on Oct 8, 2011


7:26PM PDT on Sep 29, 2011

Another BS study!

11:34PM PDT on Sep 19, 2011


7:56AM PDT on Sep 18, 2011

Umm excuse me but teens are just innocent little children who neither need or want to have sex just as the HOLY GOD above has designed their precious little minds and bodies.

If there is any one rock solid unquestionable truth that religion has taught humanity that is it.

5:36PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011


4:15AM PDT on Aug 31, 2011


I've always found that the important thing with sex was responsibilty and consideration for the other.

That it could be in some unintentional way GOOD, is kind of funny!

6:42AM PDT on Aug 28, 2011

There is no such thing as "Safe Sex". Birth control can fail and condoms do not prevent all STDs. In my opinion, Teens are not emotionally, financially, (or physically) mature enough to be having sex.

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