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.
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