On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

22nd March 2013 at 00:00

This week: teenage sex

Teenage sex. Why wouldn't it be on the naughty step? It's obviously naughty - that is the whole point of it.

If teenage sex was not naughty - if, for example, it was the kind of thing that teenagers felt perfectly comfortable discussing with their parents over a caramel frappuccino and red velvet cupcake - then who would be interested? Not teenagers, that's for sure.

Now research from the US points out that teenage infatuations are not only bad because they lead to occasional embarrassing conversations with parents who want to show how "on the level" they are. Students who start dating at a young age also tend to have poor exam results and are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, according to a study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

The study led by Pamela Orpinas, professor at the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia, found that some 16 per cent of students never or hardly ever dated at school, 24 per cent waited until they were in high school, at age 14, and another 38 per cent did some dating at a younger age. More than a fifth (22 per cent) said they had dated at age 11. That's right, 11.

Those in the latter two groups had worse study skills, were four times more likely to drop out of school and were twice as likely to use alcohol or marijuana or smoke, the study concluded.

Perhaps that's why canny teachers have always decided to introduce children to Shakespeare via that oh-so-relevant text Romeo and Juliet. See what happens if you get it on too early? Violence, banishment and death. Hey kids, enjoy yourselves, but not too much.

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