Teens who start having sex at an early age may be less likely to
engage in delinquent behavior in early adulthood than teens who
wait until they're older to have sex, a study in the online edition
of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence said Monday.
The findings contradict the widely held belief that early sexual
activity is associated with later drug use, criminality, antisocial
behavior, and emotional problems. For example, two studies
published earlier this year in the journal found a link between
early teen sex and later behavioral problems.
Teens who start having sex
at an early age may be less likely to engage in delinquent behavior
in early adulthood than teens who wait until they're older to have
sex, a study in the online edition of the Journal of Youth and
Adolescence said Monday. (file photo from Xinhua)
"We got a very surprising finding, particularly that early sex
seems to forecast less antisocial behavior a few years later,
rather than more," lead researcher Kathryn Paige Harden, a Ph.D.
candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia,
said in a prepared statement.
From their analysis of data on 534 same-sex twin pairs collected
between 1994 and 2002, the researchers also concluded that sex at
an earlier age may help teens develop better social relationships
in early adulthood.
"There is a cultural assumption in the United States that if teens
have sex early, it is somehow bad for their psychological health.
But we actually found that teens who had sex earlier seem to have
better relationships later. Now we want to find out why," she
In the next phase of this research, Harden plans to closely
examine the contexts of early teen sexual activity, such as the
types of relationships, the age of the partners, where the sex
occurred and why, and how long, the relationships lasted.
"Our hypothesis as a result of this finding is that teens who
become involved in intimate romantic relationships early are having
sex early and more often, but that those intimate relationships
might later protect them from becoming involved in delinquent
acts," Harden said.
(Agencies via Xinhua November 19, 2007)