Teen Sex Not Always Bad for School Performance

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 16, 2010 | Go to article overview

Teen Sex Not Always Bad for School Performance


Byline: Alicia Chang Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- There's good news for parents who worry their teenagers' sex lives are affecting their school performance: A provocative new study has found 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 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 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.

"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.

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