Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early Sex May Lead Teens To Delinquency, Study Shows

Date:
March 7, 2007
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Teens who start having sex significantly earlier than their peers also show higher rates of delinquency in later years, new research shows. A national study of more than 7,000 youth found that adolescents who had sex early showed a 20 percent increase in delinquent acts one year later compared to those whose first sexual experience occurred at the average age for their school.

Teens who start having sex significantly earlier than their peers also show higher rates of delinquency in later years, new research shows.

Related Articles


A national study of more than 7,000 youth found that adolescents who had sex early showed a 20 percent increase in delinquent acts one year later compared to those whose first sexual experience occurred at the average age for their school.

In contrast, those teens who waited longer than average to have sex had delinquency rates 50 percent lower a year later compared to average teens. And those trends continued up to six years.

“We're not finding that sex itself leads to delinquency, but instead, that beginning sexual relationships long before your friends is cause for concern,” said Stacy Armour, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State University.

Armour conducted the study with Dana Haynie, associate professor of sociology at Ohio State . Their results appear in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

“The findings point out the importance of acting within normal bounds for your age group,” Haynie said. “Those who start having sex too young may not be prepared to deal with the potential emotional, social and behavioral consequences of their actions.”

The researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. An initial survey was conducted in 1994-95 of students from across the country in grades 7 to 12. These students attended 132 high schools and their “feeder” middle schools.

This study included students who reported they were virgins in this first survey. They were then surveyed again one year later, and a third time six years later in 2002.

In this study, the average age of sexual debut – age at first intercourse – was calculated for each school in the sample.

“That way, the respondents in the study are compared to the peers in their own school, rather than an arbitrary age that is deemed the average age for everyone,” Armour said.

The average age for sexual debut in this study ranged from 11.25 to 17.5 years of age, depending on the individual schools.

Adolescents in the sample who had their first sexual encounter about one year or more before average for their school (the exact length differed for each school) were considered early.

To determine rates of delinquency, students in the survey were asked how often in the past year they participated in a variety of delinquent acts, including painting graffiti, deliberately damaging property, stealing, or selling drugs.

The study found that youth who had their sexual debut between the first and second surveys showed a 58 percent increase in delinquency compared to those who remained virgins. But the increases were more pronounced for those who were younger than their peers when they first had sex.

The researchers found that of those respondents who had their first sexual experience between the first and second surveys, 9 percent had started significantly earlier than their peers, 58 percent were average, and 33 percent experienced sexual intercourse significantly later than others.

The researchers took into account a variety of factors that could affect how long adolescents wait to have sex, including race, family structure, socioeconomic status, school performance, depression, how close the teens felt to their parents, and other factors.

Armour said the link between early sex and delinquency probably has to do with the whole social context of the young adolescents' lives.

“If you're having sex a lot earlier than your friends, you may be hanging out with a new group of kids, ones who are probably older,” Armour said.

“Having sex brings with it this feeling of being an adult. They may feel like they can do things older kids do, and for some that may include delinquency.”

And these negative effects of early sex may last through adolescence and into early adulthood.

When the same respondents were surveyed again in 2002 – when most were between the ages of 18 and 26 – results showed that the age of first sex was still associated with levels of delinquency.

“The timing of events such as sexual activity can have profound consequences for adolescents, particularly when they occur prematurely,” Armour said.

On the other hand, delaying sex can have positive effects for adolescents.

“Those adolescents who waited longer than average may be developing friendships and relationships that can help protect them from potentially troublesome behaviors as they become young adults,” she said.

“Sex itself is not always a problem behavior,” Armour explained. “But the timing of sexual initiation does matter. Adolescents need to be at a stage when they are developmentally prepared for it.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. The original article was written by Jeff Grabmeier, 614-292-8457. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Early Sex May Lead Teens To Delinquency, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070226131500.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2007, March 7). Early Sex May Lead Teens To Delinquency, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070226131500.htm
Ohio State University. "Early Sex May Lead Teens To Delinquency, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070226131500.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins