Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 373–385 | Cite as

Rethinking Timing of First Sex and Delinquency

  • K. Paige Harden
  • Jane Mendle
  • Jennifer E. Hill
  • Eric Turkheimer
  • Robert E. Emery
Empirical Research

Abstract

The relation between timing of first sex and later delinquency was examined using a genetically informed sample of 534 same-sex twin pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, who were assessed at three time points over a 7-year interval. Genetic and environmental differences between families were found to account for the association between earlier age at first sex and increases in delinquency. After controlling for these genetic and environmental confounds using a quasi-experimental design, earlier age at first sex predicted lower levels of delinquency in early adulthood. The current study is contrasted with previous research with non-genetically informative samples, including Armour and Haynie (2007, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 141–152). Results suggest a more nuanced perspective on the meaning and consequences of adolescent sexuality than is commonly put forth in the literature.

Keywords

Adolescent sexual behavior First sex Sexual debut Delinquency Behavior genetics 

References

  1. Armour, S., & Haynie, D. L. (2007). Adolescent sexual debut and later delinquency. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 141–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arsenault, L., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Taylor, A., Rijsdijk, F. V., Jaffee, S. R., Ablow, J. C., & Measelle, J. R. (2003). Strong genetic effects on cross-situational antisocial behaviour among 5-year old children according to mothers, teachers, examiner-observers, and twins’ self-reports. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 832–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey, J. M., Kirk, K. M., Zhu, G., Dunne, M. P., & Martin, N. G. (2000). Do individual differences in sociosexuality represent genetic or environmentally contingent strategies? Evidence from the Australian Twin Registry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 537–548.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bardone, A., Moffitt, T., Caspi, A., Dickson, N., & Silva, P. (1996). Adult mental health and social outcomes of adolescent girls with depression and conduct disorder. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 811–830.Google Scholar
  5. Billy, J. O. G., Landale, N. S., Grady, W. R., & Zimmerle, D. M. (1988). Effects of sexual activity on adolescent social and psychological development. Social Psychology Quarterly, 51, 190–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bingham, C. R., & Crockett, L. J. (1996). Longitudinal adjustment patterns of boys and girls experiencing early, middle and late sexual intercourse. Developmental Psychology, 32, 647–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brody, S. (2002). Age at first intercourse is inversely related to female cortisol stress reactivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 27, 933–943.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  9. Buchting, F. O. (1998). Associations between alcohol use and sexual behavior in male twins: An epidemiological and genetic study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Boston University.Google Scholar
  10. Cadoret, R. J., Cain, C. A., & Crowe, R. R. (1983). Evidence for gene–environment interaction in the development of adolescent antisocial behavior. Behavior Genetics, 13, 301–310.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Capaldi, D. M., Crosby, L., & Stoolmiller, M. (1996). Predicting the timing of first sexual intercourse for at-risk adolescent males. Child Development, 67, 344–359.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cauffman, E., & Steinberg, L. (1996). Interactive effects of menarcheal status and dating on dieting and disordered eating among adolescent girls. Developmental Psychology, 32, 631–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coley, P. L., & Chase-Lansdale, P. L. (1998). Adolescent pregnancy and parenthood: Recent evidence and future directions. American Psychologist, 53, 152–166.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davies, P. T., & Windle, M. (2000). Middle adolescents’ dating pathways and psychosocial adjustment. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 46, 90–118.Google Scholar
  15. Dick, D. M., Johnson, J. K., Viken, R. J., & Rose, R. J. (2000). Testing between-family associations in within-family comparisons. Psychological Science, 11, 409–413.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. D’Onofrio, B. M., Slutske, W. S., Turkheimer, E., Emery, R. E., Harden, K. P., Heath, A. C., Maddent, P. A. F., & Martin, N. G. (2007). The intergenerational transmission of childhood conduct problems: A children of twins study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 820–829.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dorius, G. L., Heaton, T. B., & Stefen, P. (1991). Adolescent life events and their association with onset of sexual intercourse. Youth and Society, 25, 3–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dunne, M. P., Martin, N. G., Statham, D. J., Slutske, W. S., Dinwiddie, S. H., Bucholz, K. K., et al. (1997). Genetic and environmental contributions to variance in age at first sexual intercourse. Psychological Science, 8, 211–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Emery R. E., Waldron M., Kitzmann K. M., & Aaron, J. (1999). Delinquent behavior, future divorce or nonmarital childbearing, and externalizing behavior among offspring: A 14-year prospective study. Journal of Family Psychology, 13, 568–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goodson, P., Buhi, E. R., & Dunsmore, S. C. (2006). Self-esteem and adolescent sexual behaviors, attitudes, and intentions: A systematic review. Journal of Adolescent Health, 38, 310–319.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harden, K. P., Lynch, S. K., Turkheimer, E., Emery, R. E., D’Onofrio, B. M., Slutske, W., Waldron, M., Heath, A. C., Statham, D. J., & Martin, N. G. (in press). A behavior genetic investigation of adolescent motherhood and offspring mental health problems. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Google Scholar
  22. Jacobson, K. C., & Rowe, D. C. (1999). Genetic and environmental influences on the relationships between family connectedness, school connectedness, and adolescent depressed mood. Developmental Psychology, 35, 926–939.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kandel, D. B., & Davies, M. (1990). Cocaine use in a national sample of U.S. youth (NLSY): Epidemiology, predictors, ethnic patterns. In C. Shade & S. Shober (Eds.), The epidemiology of cocaine use and abuse. NIDA Research Monograph. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  24. Kaprio, J., Rimpelä, A., Winter, T., Viken, R. J., Rimpelä, M., & Rose, R. J. (1995). Common genetic influences on BMI and age at menarche. Human Biology, 67, 739–753.Google Scholar
  25. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E., & Gebhard, P. H. (1953). Sexual behavior in the human female. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.Google Scholar
  26. Kohler, H., Rodgers, J. L., & Christensen, K. (2002). Between nature and nurture: The shifting determinants of female fertility in Danish twin cohorts. Social Biology, 49, 218–248.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Lammers, C., Ireland, M., Resnick, M., & Blum, R. (2000). Influences on adolescents’ decision to postpone onset of sexual intercourse: A survival analysis of virginity among youths aged 13 to 18 years. Journal of Adolescent Health, 26, 42–48.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Leitenberg, H., & Saltzmann, H. (2003). College women who had sexual intercourse when they were underage minors (13–15): Age of their male partners, relation to current adjustment, and statutory rape implications. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 15, 135–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Loehlin, J. C., & Nichols, R. C. (1970). Heredity, environment, and personality: A study of 850 sets of twins. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lyons, M. J., Koenen, K. C., Buchting, F., Meyer, J. M., Eaves, L., Toomey, R., Eisen, S. A., Goldberg, J., Faraone, S. V., Ban, R. J., Jerskey, B. A., & Tsuang, M. T. (2004). A twin study of sexual behavior in men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 33, 129–136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Magnusson, C., & Trost, K. (2006). Girls experiencing sexual intercourse early: Could it play a part in reproductive health in middle adulthood. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 27, 237–244.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Manlove, J. S., Ryan, S., & Franzetta, K. (2007). Risk and protective factors associated with the transition to a first sexual relationship with an older partner. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 135–143.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Manlove, J. S., Terry-Humen, E., Ikramullah, E. N., & Moore, K. A. (2006). The role of parent religiosity in teens’ transitions to sex and contraception. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39, 578–587.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Markon, K. E., & Krueger, R. F. (2004). An empirical comparison of information theoretic selection criteria for multivariate behavior genetic models. Behavior Genetics, 34, 593–610.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Martin, N. G., Eaves, L. J., & Eysenck, H. J. (1977). Genetical, environmental, and personality factors influencing the age of first sexual intercourse in twins. Journal of Biosocial Science, 9, 91–97.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McNeely, C., & Shew, M. L. (2002). Mothers’ influence on the timing of fist sex among 14- and 15-year olds. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31, 256–265.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Miles, D. R., & Carey, G. (1997). Genetic and environmental architecture of human aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 207–217.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Miller, W. B., Pasta, D. J., MacMurray, J., Chiu, C., Wu, H., & Comings, D. E. (1999). Dopamine receptor genes are associated with age at first sexual intercourse. Journal of Biosocial Science, 31, 43–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mott, F., & Haurin, R. J. (1988). Linkages between sexual activity and alcohol and drug use among American adolescents. Family Planning Perspectives, 19, 46–53.Google Scholar
  40. Muthen, L. K., & Muthen, B. O. (1998–2007). Mplus user’s guide (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Muthen & Muthen.Google Scholar
  41. Neale, M. C., & Cardon, L. R. (1992). Methodology for genetic studies of twins and families (NATO ASI Series D: Behavioral and Social Sciences, Vol. 67). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  42. Niess, M., Rowe, D. C., & Rodgers, J. L. (2002). Does education mediate the relationship between IQ and age of first birth? A behavioural genetic analysis. Journal of Biosocial Science, 34, 259–275.Google Scholar
  43. Paul, C., Fitzjohn, J., Herbison, P., & Dickson, N. (2000). The determinants of sexual intercourse before age 16. Journal of Adolescent Health, 27, 136–142.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pedersen, W., Samuelsen, S. O., & Wichstrøm, L. (2003). Intercourse debut age: Poor resources, problem behavior, or romantic appeal? A population-based longitudinal study. The Journal of Sex Research, 40, 333–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Plomin, R., & Bergeman, C. S. (1991). The nature of nurture: Genetic influences on “environmental” measures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 14, 373–386.Google Scholar
  46. Prinstein, M. J., Meade, C. S., & Cohen, G. L. (2003). Adolescent oral sex, peer popularity, and perceptions of best friends’ sexual behavior. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 28, 243–249.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Raboch, J., & Bartak, V. (1983). Coitarche and orgastic capacity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 12, 409–413.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Raftery, A. C. (1993). Bayesian model selection in structural equation models. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
  49. Raine, A. (2002). Biosocial studies of antisocial and violent behavior in children and adults: A review. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 311–326.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rhee, S. I., & Waldman, I. D. (2002). Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behavior: A meta-analysis of twin and adoption studies. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 490–529.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rodgers, J. L., Rowe, D. C., & Buster, M. A. (1999). Nature, nurture, and first sexual intercourse in the USA: Fitting behavioral genetic models to NLSY kinship data. Journal of Biosocial Science, 31, 29–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rowe, D. C. (2001). Biology and crime. Los Angeles: Roxbury.Google Scholar
  53. Rowe, D. C. (2002). On genetic variation in menarche and age at first sexual intercourse: A critique of the Belsky-Draper hypothesis. Evolution and Human Behavior, 23, 365–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Scarr, S., & McCartney, K. (1983). How people make their own environments: A theory of genotype environment effects. Child Development, 54, 424–435.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Schwarz, G. (1978). Estimating the dimensions of a model. Annals of Statistics, 6, 461–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Scourfield, J., Van den Bree, M., Martin, N., & McGuffin, P. (2004). Conduct problems in children and adolescents: A twin study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61, 489–496.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Singh, S., & Darroch, J. E. (2000). Adolescent pregnancy and childbearing: Levels and trends in developed countries. Family Planning Perspectives, 32, 14–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Skrondal, A., & Rabe-Hesketh, S. (2004). Generalized latent variable modeling: Multilevel, longitudinal and structural equation models. Boca Raton, FL: Chapman & Hall/CRC.Google Scholar
  59. Slutske, W. S., Heath, A. C., Dinwiddie, S. H., Madden, P. A. F., Bucholz, K. K., Dunne, M. P., Statham, D. J., & Martin, N. G. (1997). Modeling genetic and environmental influences in the etiology of conduct disorder: A study of 2,682 adult twin pairs. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 266–279.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Spitz, E., Moutier, R., Reed, T., Busnel, M. C., Marchaland, C., Roubertoux, P. L., & Carlier, M. (1996). Comparative diagnoses of twin zygosity by SSLP variant analysis, questionnaire, and dermatoglyphic analysis. Behavior Genetics, 26, 55–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Steiger, J. H. (1990). Structural model evaluation and modification: An interval estimation approach. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 25, 173–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Udry, J. R. (2003a). The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), Waves I & II, 1994–1996; Wave III, 2001–2002 [machine-readable data file and documentation]. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Google Scholar
  63. Udry, J. R. (2003b). References, instruments, and questionnaires consulted in the development of the AddHealth in-home interview. In AddHealth User Guides, available at http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/addhealth/files/refer.pdf
  64. Udry, J. R., & Cliquet, R. L. (1982). A cross-cultural examination of the relationship between ages at menarche, marriage, and first birth. Demography, 19, 53–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. United Nations (1991). Demographic yearbook. New York: Author.Google Scholar
  66. Vallery-Masson, J., Valleron, A. J., & Poitrenaud, J. (1981). Factors related to sexual intercourse frequency in a group of French pre-retirement managers. Age and Ageing, 10, 53–59.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Waldron, M. C. (2004). Parsing quasi-causal relations from confounds: A study of teenage childbearing in Australian twins. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Virginia.Google Scholar
  68. Weaver, H., Smith, G., & Kippax, S. (2005). School-based sex education policies and indicators of sexual health among young people: A comparison of the Netherlands, France, Australia, and the United States. Sex Education, 5, 171–188.Google Scholar
  69. Whitbeck, L. B., Yoder, K. A., Hoyt, D. R., & Conger, R. D. (1999). Early adolescent sexual activity: A developmental study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61, 934–946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Woodward, L., & Fergusson, D. (1999). Early conduct problems and later risk of teenage pregnancy in girls. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 127–141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Young, S. E., Smolen, A., Corley, R. P., Krauter, K. S., DeFries, J. C., Crowley, T. C., & Hewitt, J. K. (2002). Dopamine transporter polymorphism is associated with childhood externalizing behavior. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 114, 144–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Paige Harden
    • 1
  • Jane Mendle
    • 1
  • Jennifer E. Hill
    • 1
  • Eric Turkheimer
    • 1
  • Robert E. Emery
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations