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The power of teenage love

We both went to high school in New Jersey (just a few towns away from each other, it turns out). During those late 80s days, Lo fell in love and had sex within a loving, committed, romantic relationship. Meanwhile, Em remained a virgin and sometimes ate her lunch in the bathroom. We both ended up excelling in high school, engaging in many extra-curricular activities, and going to well-respected universities.

Fast forward twenty years to last week: a study by Bill McCarthy of the University of California and Eric Grodsky of the University of Minnesota found that teens in romantic sexual relationships have similar school experiences to virgins. Meanwhile, students who engage in NON-romantic sexual activity (hook-ups, friends with benefits, etc) were found to be more likely to be suspended or expelled, less likely to aspire to college, and more likely to earn lower grades.

This is just one more blow to abstinence-only education, which is based on the idea that ALL teen sex has negative consequences. If anything, this study confirms the importance of teaching kids about love, respect, and commitment. A million Y.A. novels can’t be wrong.

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