Teen Sex Linked to Divorce
Special Report - June 23, 2011
A new study shows that early sexual activity is directly linked to an increased risk of divorce later in life. The study, “Adolescent Sexuality and the Risk of Marital Dissolution” by Anthony Paik of the University of Iowa, was published in the April issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. Sexual activity before age 16 was directly associated with an increased likelihood of divorce, while sexual debut at ages 16 and 17 were linked to other risk factors that may contribute to divorce. All in all, according to the author, “the results suggest that the timing and context of adolescent sexual debut have important implications for marital stability.”
The study found that both sexual activity at younger ages and unwanted sexual activity lead to an increased chance of divorce later in life, as well as an increase in other risk factors, including the number of sexual partners, the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and teen pregnancy. The study also reports that the younger girls are when they first become sexually active, the less likely that experience is to have been wanted by the girl. Additionally, it found several other indicators of a greater chance of divorce, including marrying at a younger age, “being raised in a non-intact family, and having a husband who married or fathered children previously.”
The results include some good news too, such as a finding that women who remained virgins until their wedding have a lower risk of divorce. “More than half of the women who delayed first sexual intercourse until adulthood were virgins at marriage or had their first experience with their future husbands,” the report explains. This is compared to 15 percent for sexually active adolescent women. Nearly one-third of ever-married women who engaged in sexual activity during adolescence saw their marriages dissolve within five years. By 10 years of marriage, nearly half of women whose first sexual experience was during adolescence were divorced. The comparable figures are 15 percent and just over one-quarter, respectively, for women who delayed sex until adulthood.
Finally, the study acknowledges that there may be indirect risks associated with premarital sexual activity for adolescents, even if they are older and the encounters are wanted. It states, “Clearly, adolescent sexual debut is frequently not completely wanted and is associated with both marital dissolution and premarital sexual outcomessex with multiple partners and premarital pregnancieswhich are determinants of divorce.” Although the study found that wanted sexual debut after age 16 is not associated with an increased risk of divorce, it also reports that adolescent sex, even at those ages, “is associated with subsequent premarital sexual outcomes, such as having multiple premarital partners and premarital fertility, both of which are determinants of divorce.”
“This study is the latest in a long list of studies that show conclusively that traditional values and abstinence from sexual activity until marriage is the best policy,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Government policies, such as comprehensive sexuality education, that encourage earlier sexual activity are not in the best interests of society.”
Concerning Young Adult Sexual Trends - January 14, 2011
Abstinence Programs Prove Effective - March 3, 2010
Ten Reasons to Keep Abstinence Education in NC - FNC -July 2009
Positive Trends in Teen Sexuality - May 20, 2009
Virginity Pledges Help Delay Sex - June 13, 2008
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