Teenage puppy love (like Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber's!) and its, uh, consummation may be keeping kids of trouble. That's if you don't consider teenage sex trouble already. A new study from the University of Texas at Austin reveals that adolescents in committed sexual relationships are less likely to be delinquents than their super-promiscuous or virginal classmates. That's right moms, sex can be good for teens!
But only when they're actually dating. "Hook-ups," or casual sex, can actually have the opposite effect and increase anti-social behavior, according to the study. Apparently all that time teens spend on the phone with their sweethearts (and sneaking around to get it on) is keeping them from being peer-pressured into doing bad things by their friends. Are Teens As Sex-Crazed As Pop Culture Makes Them Out To Be?
Genetics plays a role, too. The researchers studied 519 same-sex twins who grew up similarly, but differed in their dating and sexual experiences. The teens answered questions about their sexual history and "delinquent behaviors." They found that for teens 15 and under, genetics play a big factor in whether they have casual sex. Parents pass down traits for impulsivity, early puberty and extroversion that may cause the teenagers to have multiple sex partners who they aren't dating. The same genes put them at risk for adverse psychological outcomes, researchers say. But for older teens (ages 16-18), environmental factors, such as economic status and parental involvement are more important in determining whether they hook up casually. Can Hook-Ups Hurt You?
So next time you're watching an MTV reality show about teens writhing around in hot tubs together, and wonder how those kids got so raunchy, remember—they got it from their mamas.
What do you think: Is it okay for teenagers to have sex as long as they're in relationships? Or should they just wait until they're older?