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Early teen sex may not be a path to delinquency, study shows
Date:11/12/2007

A new study by University of Virginia clinical psychologists has found that teens who have sex at an early age may be less inclined to exhibit delinquent behavior in early adulthood than their peers who waited until they were older to have sex. The study also suggests that early sex may play a role in helping these teens develop better social relationships in early adulthood.

The finding is published in the current online edition of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, and runs counter to most assumptions that relate early teen sex to later drug use, criminality, antisocial behavior and emotional problems. The finding also contradicts parts of a study published earlier this year in the same journal that found a connection between early teen sex and later behavioral problems.

The researchers analyzed data on 534 same-sex twin pairs in the United States gathered at three time points over a seven-year period. By examining surveys of twins, the investigators were able to eliminate the genetic and socio-economic variables that otherwise might influence the behaviors of adolescents.

We got a very surprising finding, particularly that early sex seems to forecast less antisocial behavior a few years later, rather than more, said Kathryn Paige Harden, the studys lead author and a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia.

There is a cultural assumption in the United States that if teens have sex early it is somehow bad for their psychological health, Harden said. But we actually found that teens who had sex earlier seem to have better relationships later. Now we want to find out why.

Harden says she plans further investigations that will look closely at the contexts of early teen sexual activity, such as the types of relationships, whether they were casual or intimate, how old the partners were, where the sex occurred and why, and how long the relationships lasted. She and her colleagues will then try to relate that t
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Contact: Kathryn Paige Harden
434-982-4712
University of Virginia
Source:Eurekalert

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