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Medical News

Teen Sex Not Always Bad for School Performance

August 17, 2010

Teenagers in committed sexual relationships are similar to peers who abstain with regard to grade-point average, how attached they are to school, and whether they expect to attend college, according to a study presented Sunday in Atlanta at a meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The results challenge the assumption that all sexually active students are likely to fare poorly in school and thus "should give some comfort to parents who may be concerned that their teenage son or daughter is dating," said Bowling Green State University sociologist Peggy Giordano, who was not involved in the research.

By comparison, teenagers who "hook up" -- engage in more casual relationships -- earn lower grades and have more school-related problems than their abstaining classmates, reported Bill McCarthy of the University of California-Davis and Eric Grodsky of the University of Minnesota.

"The type of relationship really matters," said Oregon State University professor Marie Harvey.

Regardless of whether the relationship was committed or casual, teenagers in sexual relationships were more likely to be truant or drop out of school. Drop-out statistics were based on small numbers, the researchers noted.

The researchers looked at surveys and school transcripts from a follow-up study that began during the 1994-95 school year. When teens first have sex and attitudes toward teen sex have not changed much in the past decade, they concluded.

In a statement, the Family Research Council said the study's results validated its own assessment of the negative consequences of casual sex and that the findings about committed teen sex did not justify comprehensive sex education.

In contrast, University of Southern California sociologist Julie Albright said the results could support sex education to "emphasize the importance of relationships and spell out the consequences of casual sex."

Back to other news for August 2010

Adapted from:
Associated Press
08.15.2010; Alicia Chang

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More Viewpoints on HIV Prevention for Young People

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