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Monday, November 12, 2007

Facts Are Problematic Things

posted by on November 12 at 11:16 AM

Will abstinence educators—beloved by hypocritical Republicans, coddled by cowardly Democrats—stop citing a study linking teen sex with juvenile delinquency now that it has been debunked?

Researchers at Ohio State University garnered little attention in February when they found that youngsters who lose their virginity earlier than their peers are more likely to become juvenile delinquents. So obvious and well established was the contribution of early sex to later delinquency that the idea was already part of the required curriculum for federal “abstinence only” programs.

There was just one problem: It is probably not true. Other things being equal, a more probing study has found, youngsters who have consensual sex in their early-teen or even preteen years are, if anything, less likely to engage in delinquent behavior later on.

I’m not holding my breath.

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I can see the PSA campaign based on this news now: "Plan for a successful future. Lose it at 12!"

Posted by Gitai | November 12, 2007 11:33 AM

Early sex prevents school shootings.

Posted by Cat in Chicago | November 12, 2007 11:43 AM

Well, now I'm ticked. I'm not a delinquent, but I sure didn't get laid when I was a teenager.

Posted by Greg | November 12, 2007 11:49 AM

"There was just one problem: It is probably not true" Well it is or it is not true. So at this point we're no closer to the truth than we were on Sunday.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | November 12, 2007 11:53 AM

These are the same people who say abortions cause breast cancer, that premarital sex makes it impossible to forge long term romantic relationships, that condoms don't work, and that homosexuality is a "dangerous lifestyle." These people are not acquainted with truth and honesty.

Posted by sam | November 12, 2007 11:57 AM

Surely the many studies showing the fruitlessness of the "War on Drugs" will be used as a touchstone to define policy regarding continuing with abstinence education.

After all, the gov'ment only makes decisions rationally and based on the best information.

Posted by Westside forever | November 12, 2007 12:00 PM

I can testify to this. I had LOTS of sex with the Captian of the basketball team in High School while he was tutoring me in Pre-Calc. and Trig. My grades went up with his talented tutoring and rather large penis.

Teenage (gay) sex = Higher Grades!

Posted by Just Me | November 12, 2007 12:01 PM

Just Me: more details please!

Posted by Mike in MO | November 12, 2007 12:04 PM

Details? Think I should do a PSA on NBC? The Gay Porno version of "The More you know.."?

Posted by Just Me | November 12, 2007 12:11 PM

Of course they won't. Freaking parents out at the thought of their little darlings using their genitals is so rich with political potential.

Posted by tsm | November 12, 2007 12:13 PM

It is impossible to debunk abstinence only theories, as these theories have never been bunked.

Posted by David R. | November 12, 2007 12:20 PM

it's irrelevant. it's not a question of sex per se, but if engaging in one act that is deemed rebellious will be correlated with engaging in other acts that are similarly rebellious. dare i say it's a no-brainer, as long as teenage sex is cast as a rebellious act?

Posted by audrey | November 12, 2007 12:41 PM

Iraq War
Same Sex Marriage
Abstinence Only
War on Drugs

This country has a poor history paying attention to facts; why start now?

Posted by Dianna | November 12, 2007 1:29 PM

Correlation is not causation!

--as the subsequent study in Virginia showed. So please don't overinterpret the new study, either.

I think I'm going to post "Correlation is not causation" in the comments everytime Dan posts about a social science article. It'll be like "First!" for Slog.

Or maybe you could do a regular feature called "Dear Social Science" and actually explain what the findings mean, if anything.

'Cause, you know, "facts" are problematic things when we don't understand them in their proper context.

Posted by FooFootheSnoo | November 12, 2007 1:44 PM

"More probing study". Huhuhuhuh. Where do I sign up?

Posted by Raindog | November 12, 2007 3:08 PM

@14 - Right, except Dan isn't actually pushing for the government to promote teenage sex as a method of preventing juvenile delinquency. The Abstinence-Only crowd is the one saying that correlation equals causation. However, you can't even presuppose causation if there is no correlation. And this study proves that the correlation that the abstinence-only supporters cite doesn't even exist.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | November 12, 2007 3:32 PM

I am the mom of 2 grown men and a 16 year old who certainly sees himself as a man. When they went from constantly uncomfortable, cranky, sexually frustrated sacks of unvented testosterone to getting laid on a regular basis things really improved around our house--grades went up, socks got picked up and they all kinda just lightened up about all that stinky teenage "I am so dumped on" stuff. They all allow/allowed their girlfriends to boss them around in ways they would never let me get away with. I have never understood why there is such a stigma to teen sex. Being a teenager is hard and sex just makes life better. Why would we not want life to be better for teens? I love my sons. I want them to have a rich and full sex life. How creepy would it be for me to be rooting for them to be stunted and deprived? Abstinence only education is stupid on so many levels it is almost comical.

Posted by pro sex mom | November 12, 2007 6:19 PM

Wasn't there a big study whose results were recently published that showed abstinence-only education did not delay first sexual experiences for teenagers? That would seem to kind of make the results of these two studies mentioned above moot wrt abstinence-only education.

Posted by Jeff | November 12, 2007 6:47 PM

@17 So you teach your sons that women can belittle them and then use them for sex as if they are dogs who only get a treat when they don't jump on the furniture instead of treating them like actual adults whose identities are varified through physical connectiveness? Awesome!

Also, this study says nothing about class, race, or identity. Maybe the reason delinquets don't get laid is because they're DELINQUETS! Losers are more likely to lash out because they are not socially accepted by their peers! Well no friggin duh.

Posted by Marty | November 13, 2007 1:10 PM

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