Study finds loss of virginity in adolescence does not lead to delinquent behaviour

Loss of virginity in adolescence does not lead to delinquent behaviour, according to a study recently published in Deviant Behaviour.

Traditionally, adolescent sexual activity out of wedlock has been perceived as deviant. Adolescence is an important transition into adulthood, there is immense pressure from friends, family and school as well has hormones running high and learning how to deal with romantic and sexual relationships.

Engaging in premarital sexual activity is considered by some to be deviant or risky behaviour especially as many young people are uneducated about the consequences of sexual activity such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.  It has been suggested that adolescents with elevated self-control and conventional values will not participate in sexual intercourse. It has also been reported that sexually active youths are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviour and have higher rates of teenage pregnancy.

The study conducted by Alexis Harper (Texas A&M International University) used data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolesenct Health (Add Health) concerning virgin and non-virgin adolescence to uncover whether loss of virginity in youth influences subsequent delinquent behaviour. The results showed that there was no impact on an individual losing their virginity and delinquency. However, the study did report information about the link between loss of virginity and other factors relating to how an adolescent decides to become sexually active.

Higher levels of self-control were reported to decrease the chance of delinquent behaviour as well as retaining virginity. Youth that were involved in a romantic relationship and did not think religion was important showed increased levels of delinquency, suggesting religion and associated conventions could act as a buffer against delinquency.

The main reported difference between virgins and non-virgins was their reported parental relationships. It was found that virgins that were close to their mothers engaged in delinquent behaviour less. Non-virgins whose fathers approved of their sexual behaviour also displayed less delinquent behaviour. This finding confirms social bond theories which state that increased attachment to parents decreases the chance of offspring engaging in delinquent acts.

Overall, the findings show that there is no direct relationship between loss of virginity and delinquent behaviour. However, the results do show that there is a complex of variables that predict whether young people choose to participate both sexual activity and delinquency activity.