A “provocative new study” show that teenagers who have sex don’t necessarily have poor grades. What is the true factor in leading to poor school performance, is whether the relationship in which the sex occurs is a healthy one. The study finds that teenagers in committed relationships are likely to find social and emotional support from their partners that may in fact help them in school. For those kids that prefer to quote “hook up” and have casual sex, poor performance is more likely. However, the virgins do seem to win on one thing across the board, better attendance and less of a likelihood of dropping out.
The important thing to focus on from the findings is that the environment in which the sex occurs, not the sex itself, is the determining factor. Thus, the conservative groups who do not want this report to spur more comprehensive sex ed are way off base, especially …
… now that their abstinence crusades seem not to be quite so effective. While it would make sense that a positive, committed relationship, with or without sex, would give students a better outlook, the study makes no mention of negative or abusive relationships. I personally have found these relationships have had the worst impact on my emotions and the effort I put forth in school (or anywhere else, really), more so than being in a good relationship or being single. And, while I hate to give some credence to Laura Stepp and the anti-hook up concern trolls, the lack of emotional connection in a casual sex relationship is likely to cause stress for at least one partner, especially if that partner feels they got the short end of the stick.
In summary, while I think the study shows very little we didn’t already know, I think it does teach us that healthy dating relationships, regardless of whether sex takes place, are better for young people to engage in. The one thing that I think is true, just based on my own experiences, is that all relationships, whether positive or otherwise, involve an emotional roller coaster that can make other important tasks (studying, work, etc.) lose their importance. Thus, I think the only way for kids (and a lot of adults, for that matter) to guarantee that they will put forth a solid effort in their educational/professional arenas is to stay away from relationships altogether if they do not feel they can handle the demands. If they do not, they will suffer for it, even if it’s only a private grief.