Sex and school: Adolescent sexual intercourse and education

Citation

McCarthy, Bill & Grodsky, Eric (2011). Sex and school: Adolescent sexual intercourse and education. Social Problems. vol. 58 (2) pp. 213-234

Abstract

A number of studies document a negative relationship between adolescent sexual intercourse and high school educational experiences and outcomes; yet, this research risks conflating the consequences associated with sex in romantic relationships with those that result when sex occurs in other relationship contexts. We predict that, compared to abstinence, intercourse in romantic relationships will have limited consequences for education, whereas the negative effects associated with sex in other relationships will be pronounced. We evaluate our hypothesis with two waves of data on nine measures of educational experiences and outcomes from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Our results are generally consistent with our predictions: the context in which sexual activity occurs substantially moderates the relationship between sexual intercourse and several education measures. These findings contradict the claims some abstinence-only curricula make regarding the link between adolescent sex and a plethora of negative outcomes. We speculate that such programs reinforce the notion that sex, and in particular sex that occurs in nonromantic relationships, is counternormative. As a result, they may needlessly increase the risk that some sexually active adolescents will have negative educational experiences and outcomes.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/sp.2011.58.2.213

Keyword(s)

Education School

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Social Problems

Author(s)

McCarthy, Bill
Grodsky, Eric

Year Published

2011

Volume Number

58

Issue Number

2

Pages

213-234

DOI

10.1525/sp.2011.58.2.213

Reference ID

1459