The Surprising Secret to Well-Behaved Teens


happy teensWARNING: Depending on what kind of sex life you do or do not want your teen to have, you may or may not want her to read this. Because this is going to blow (oh geez, bad choice of word, sorry) your whole abstinence argument out of the water. If that's what you've been selling.

Okay, here goes: According to a recent study, teenagers who are having sex actually get into less trouble than those who ... can't get no satisfaction, so to speak. No, not that kind of "trouble." Like, the vandalizing school property, shoplifting, beer pong sort of trouble.

Surprising, right? Aren't backseat make-out sessions and keg parties the "two great tastes that taste great together" of juvenile delinquency?

Hold on, hold on ... there's something I haven't told you yet.

It's not just any old sex that keeps teens in line. Random hook-ups aren't gonna do it. The study found that only teens having sex within a relationship display "less antisocial behavior" than their abstinent pals. Casual sex, not so much.

Hmmm. There are a couple of theories floating around as to why this might be true. One is that teens who are having sex have simply discovered that sex is more fun than other available recreational options, such as knocking over tombstones at the local graveyard.

Another theory is that maybe healthy relationships are good for the overall well-being of teens. You know, having somebody who supports you and maybe will talk you out of inhaling spray paint isn't such a bad thing.

Call me a skeptic (most people do), but I think the first explanation, about sex being a better hobby than petty crime, is probably the more likely of the two. I'm sorry, but the average high school "relationship" isn't exactly healthy. Yes, I know there are exceptions. Overall, though? Raging hormones and raging-er immaturity levels do not a happy couple make.

Why do you think teens who are having sex get into less trouble?

Image via D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr

dating, sex


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mommix4 mommix4

Probably because there's no parent around to get them in trouble. I know that when my husband and I were 17 and having sex there wasn't parents around that cared

PonyC... PonyChaser

Actually, no, it does NOT say that "teens who are having sex" get into less trouble. It says that teens who are in dating relationships get into less trouble, while those who are "hooking up" actually get into *more* trouble than both the dating/sex group and the abstinence group. (It really helps to read the actual study, and not the Jezebel write up).

Still, this does not completely blow the "abstinence" crowd out of the water. After all, a surprisingly astute comment, made in the Jezebel article, states that, "teens who spend more one-on-one time with their boyfriends or girlfriends, and less time with their friends, have fewer opportunities to get into trouble." This indicates, to me, that those with *any* kind of solid one-on-one relationship with a close friend would help keep a kid out of trouble. It doesn't necessarily have to involve sex. Those doing the study were specifically looking for the link between sex and social misbehavior.

I fail to understand why telling a young person, say between the ages of 13 & 16, who is physically and emotionally unable to care for a child (no job, no real education, still a child herself) that it's ok to go ahead and do the deed, damn the consequences. Because there *are* consequences. Both emotional and physical. And they are life-changing. At 13, most kids are not ready for that.

What on earth is wrong with setting a standard for kids and expecting them to live up to it?

SandM... SandMsMama

well, I was a teen not to long ago, and I completely agree. I had an amazing relationship with my now husband, and neither of us got into any trouble. we also didn't get caught, but that's a different story.

I do want to add, if you have a teen who you think is good (no reports of misbehavior) they're most likely having sexual relations. I did, and I had great grades, never got in trouble etc. my parents also forbid me from having a serious relationship (for my grades, lmao), so they didn't even know I had a boyfriend. it was quite a shock to them when I got married 2 weeks after they met him... they thought we had been together for 2 weeks, when we had been dating for 6 years. moral of the story? let your kids be kids and your teens be teens. it's part of life

Chari... Charizma77

Hmmm.... I didn't have sex as a teen and I didn't get into any trouble. Honestly, I can't think of any of my friends that were virgins that got into trouble....

jalaz77 jalaz77


nonmember avatar Mike M

There was a similar study a year ago which looked at the school performance of teens who have sex in committed relationships, casual relationships, and no sex. They found that teens in committed relationships have grades that are on par with those who abstain from sex, and those in casual relationships do worse in school. They also found out that compared to those who abstain, teens who do have sex (whether in casual or committed relationships) were more likely to be truant and/or drop out of school. (The article I'm referring to can be found by searching for "Teen Sex Not Always Bad For School Performance.") Now one thing I want to stress is that these studies do not indicate whether teenage sex causes their behavior or if it's just a symptom of another cause which results in their behavior. (For example, if a teenager is dissatisfied with life they may be more inclined to have sex to feel more fulfilled with life. In such a case if their parents were to prevent that teen from having sex [with the belief that sex itself is the cause of their behavioral problems] that may simply cause them to become more rebellious rather than help them become more motivated to behave as others expect them to. But if their parents were to provide their teen with the support they need [such as being loving and accepting rather than intolerant and judgmental] to obtain a greater level of satisfaction in life then they should be more likely to behave in a wise, mature, and respectful manner.)

Natalie J Treichel

Does that study talk about pregnancy and the trauma that abortion, adopting out their child or having to raise a child in their teens?

Teens have a hard time keeping their rooms from looking like a sloth doesn't live in it, let alone being responsible enough to deal with birth control. 


nonmember avatar Anon

Not all teens are the same maturity-wise. There are some who are mature enough to have an actual meaningful relationship. And if they are that mature, they also know better than to do completely stupid things that will ruin their lives. (The writer of this article cannot be dumb enough to really believe that the sex itself is the cause of the mature behavior. That was written to get comments.) My parents were married at 17 and 19 and I don't think they were virgins. However, they were ready to be married, and 50yrs later, they are still married and have 6 well-raised kids. However, as we all know, due to helicoptering and dumbing-down childhood, the number of teens who are actually mature enough to be trusted with sex is dwindling to near zero.

malex... malexander2009

My now DH and I started to get in to more trouble...drinking so on and so forth after we took the relationship to the next level

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