POZLife: Life from the Infected and Effected point of veiw.

Study: Teen Sex and Delinquency

Posted by pozlife on November 17, 2007

The link between early sexual debut and delinquency is so established a theory that federal abstinence-only programs must incorporate it. Thus, few paid attention in February to an Ohio State University (OSU) study confirming the relationship. However, according to researchers who conducted a more powerful parsing of that study’s data, the association is probably not correct.

The OSU study relied on federal data involving 7,000 US students in grades seven through 12. It found that teens who began having sex earlier than average were 20 percent more likely to engage in self-reported delinquent behaviors. But among more than 500 pairs of twins who participated in that survey, University of Virginia-Charlottesville (UVC) researchers found that, other things being equal, youths who had earlier sexual debut were less likely to be delinquent. The average age of sexual debut in the United States is 16.

The UVC study found identical twins were more similar to each other in the ages of sexual debut. And other twins studies have found the same pattern for delinquent behavior. So while early sex and delinquency might be affected by some other factors, the two are not linked by cause and effect, said UVC researchers. The leader of the earlier study, OSU sociologist Dana Haynie, agreed with that conclusion in an e-mail.

Young sexually active adolescents are still less likely to use condoms and thus risk STDs and pregnancy. Other nations mitigate these risks through education that does not preclude the discussion of condoms, said UVC study co-authors Paige Harden and Eric Turkheimer. Their analysis is set to appear in the March 2008 issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

[This summary provided by the CDC National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention | Washington Post | Nov. 11, 2007 | Rick Weiss]

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