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Girls Who Skip School, Fail Tests Have More Sex

Update Date: Sep 09, 2014 05:01 PM EDT

Teenage girls who skip school and fail tests have more sex and are less likely to use condoms compared to their more studious counterparts.

Researchers discovered this link between academic performance and sex after looking through 80,000 diary entries written by 14-to 17-year-old girls. Researchers noted that the findings are based on the romantic/ sexual relationships and sexual behavior of 387 teenage girls who were followed for 10 years.

Researchers said the girls had to turn in daily reports of their activities and mood.

Lead researcher Devon Hensel of Indiana University said that his study supports previous findings linking academic success to lower sexual risk.

"This study demonstrates that young women's weekday reports of skipping school and failing a test were significantly linked to more frequent vaginal sex, less frequent condom use and different sexual emotions, on that same day," Hensel, said in a news release.

Hensel added that her study might even be more accurate than previous studies that used retrospective information.

"The strength of using multiple daily reports is that allows us a more ecologically valid, or 'real world,' look at how young women's academic and romantic behaviors are linked from one day to the next. Rather than relying on reports about what happened in the past, we have a unique view of events as they unfold," said Hensel, who is an assistant research professor of pediatrics in the Section of Adolescent Medicine at the IU School of Medicine, and an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"Romantic relationships become a primary social focus during adolescence, and school provides a venue where young women meet and interact with their partners," she said. "Many of the same skills underlying academic outcomes -- such as communication, emotional awareness and behavior regulation -- are also linked to what happens in young women's relationships. Using this idea, we hypothesized that what happened academically during a given school day would impact how an adolescent felt about her romantic partner, and the behaviors she engaged in with that partner."

"Our findings raise the possibility that the emotional and behavioral experiences in young women's romantic and sexual relationships may impact her reaction to academic events, particularly if an event is more salient to her or to her partner. For example, condom use might be lower after failing a test if a young woman feels supported and loved by her partner. Conversely, if a boyfriend pressures a young woman to skip school, that same pressure could influence her to eschew condom use when sex occurs," Hensel concluded. "Our data reflect the importance of considering how the close links between different areas in an adolescent's life can impact her overall health and well-being."

The findings were published Sept. 9 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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