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

Photo from demibrooke via flickr.

113 comments

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R3 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R3 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R3 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R3 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R3 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Anando Das Gupta
Anando DasGupta5 years ago

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.

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Eddie C.
Past Member 5 years ago

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...

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amanda kauppila
amanda kauppila5 years ago

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.

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Alamzeb Akhund
Alamzeb Khan5 years ago

noted.

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yaremis l.
Sarah M5 years ago

Another BS study!

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