Divorce linked with early sex

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Despite all the experts who scoff at teaching adolescents to “wait” for sex, many do. About half of US 15- to 19-year-olds have never had sexual contact, according to recent report based on the National Survey of Family Growth. Now a study (based on data from the same survey) shows how important that is in later life.

From the Daily Mail:

The University of Iowa study shows that 31 per cent of women who had sex for the first time as [young] teens divorced within five years, and 47 per cent within 10 years.

Among women who delayed sex until adulthood, 15 per cent divorced at five years, compared to 27 per cent at 10 years.

The early sex-divorce link did not appear where the adolescent was at least 16 and wanted to have sex; but the small percentage who had sex at earlier ages, even if they wanted to, were also more likely to divorce. (The press release about this is not very helpful in its use of “teens”, “adolescent” and “adult”, but it seems to treat 18-year-olds as adults.)

Sex at younger ages was also more likely to lead to promiscuity (31 per cent vs 24 per cent of those who waited until 18) and pre-marital conceptions (29 per cent vs 15 per cent). Forty-two per cent said their first sexual intercourse before 18 was “not completely wanted”. But even at older ages women had been ambivalent:

Fifty eight per cent of the group waited until age 18 or older to have sex. Of those, 22 per cent said it was unwanted, compared to 21 per cent who said it was wanted.

Of course, there are the usual caveats about causality and “selection”, but there is a warning in these figures that we should encourage girls to take notice of.

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | adolescence, divorce, sexual behaviour

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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@

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