Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rituals Of The Goddess

Fascinating study by Paige Harden, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Virginia that's going to really piss some people off:

Perhaps most surprising, the Virginia study found that adolescents who had sex at younger ages were less likely to end up delinquent than those who lost their virginity later. Many factors play into a person's readiness for sex, but in at least some cases sexual relationships may offer an alternative to trouble, the researchers say.

Even then, there are emotional and physical risks. Young adolescents, in particular, are less likely to use condoms and so are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
But those are risks that other nations have mitigated with education, Harden and Turkheimer said, while U.S. educators wanting a piece of the nation's $200 million "abstinence only" budget must adhere to a curriculum that links sex to delinquency and explicitly precludes discussion of contraception.

The new study "really calls into question the usefulness of abstinence education for preventing behavior problems," Harden said, "and questions the bigger underlying assumption that all adolescent sex is always bad."

One wonders how adolescent sex could be bad -- throughout history, until v. recently, people began having sex, children, "adult" lives in their teens. It's long seemed obvious to me that teens have problems around early sex because our entire society has problems around sex. If you take something natural and make it "bad" kids will have problems with it (see, e.g., teenage girls and, say, eating). Once you intelligently deal, as other nations do, with issues such as preventing pregnancy and transmitting disease, it's not at all clear to me why teen sex is "bad" or "harmful." Nor why it should be related to delinquent behaviors.

But you know this study is going to drive the fundies batshit insane.


Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

Contrary to the current cultural opinion, teenage sex is nothing new. What is new is that the definition of adulthood and readiness for sex/marriage has been pushed steadily upward. Once people start realizing that teenagers have sex drives because of some biological factors that cannot be ignored, then we can have an honest discussion about teenage sex.

shrimplate said...

Abstinence until when? Marriage? That's ridiculous.

Those who persue a college education might not find marriage suitable until they are perhaps 27 years old and finished with schooling. It's just plain unrealistic to suggest that people spend over a decade of their reproductive and social lives abstaining from sex.

Without a widespread and successful spaying and neutering program, that is.

Moonbootica said...

check out this blogpost, deals with similar issues - family education trust: we have reason to believe your future hypothetical husband is unfaithful

Jimmy the Saint said...

Lots not forget. Back in the days of Cotton Mather and stuff, people were getting married when they were 13 and 14. Then again, life expectancies were a lot shorter too.

A Tabla Rasa said...

We draw artificial lines because it's useful for controlling the herd. Some people are mature at 15 (I knew a young woman like that) and others aren't ready to fly until much later. Yet we say "start school on this date or you'll be forever an outcast. At 16 you can die driving a car, at 18 you can die for your country, but it takes until 21 to handle alcohol. And you really only get marginal training for the first and second ones and none at all for the third.

And for sex, somehow, you should on your 18th birthday know how to behave responsibly in the sack. I was married at 19 and I sure as hell could have used some training all the way around. My honeymoon would have been a lot more entertaining if I'd had more of a clue as to how best to get Tab A into Slot B ("best" including better awareness of Slot B's needs, among other things).