Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Brent C. Miller


Brent C. Miller


Thómas R. Lee


E. Helen Berry


This study examined the reciprocal relationship between the age of first sexual intercourse and academic goals and achievement. It was hypothesized that lower educational goals and achievement were likely to be associated with an adolescent who initiated sexual intercourse at a younger age than those with higher educational goals and achievement. It was also hypothesized that initiating sexual activity early would be associated with a decrease in subsequent academic achievement and goals. Possible explanations are that the costs of engaging in sexual intercourse (pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases) may deter adolescents from initiating intercourse. Weak attachment to parents and future goals may increase the influence of negative peer associations as well. It is also possible that adolescents who engage in sexual intercourse experience a change in mind set against community standards, one being high academic achievement and goals. This project analyzed data from the National Survey of Children (NSC), which is a national longitudinal sample of children aged 7 to 11 beginning in 1976, with additional data collection points in 1981 and 1987. A regression analysis examined the correlation of selected educational variables with the age of first sexual intercourse. The sample was then divided into two groups: those who had experienced voluntary sexual intercourse prior to the time of a data collection point and those who had not. I tests were performed examine the difference in educational variables for virgins and nonvirgins in 1981 and 1987. To examine the change in educational goals and achievement that could have resulted due to the onset of sexual activity, an analysis of covariance was performed on educational variables that were measured at two points in time. The results of this research confirm that reciprocal relationships exist between adolescent sexual activity and educational achievement and goals. Lower educational achievement and goals, measured at an earlier point in time, were related to a younger age of first sexual intercourse. Also, engaging in sexual intercourse was related to a decrease in subsequent educational goals and achievement. The relationship between lower academic achievement and goals and the age of first sex varied by race and gender. Black females showed the strongest association with educational variables and black males the least association. White females and white males both showed significant relationships between education and sexual activity. Sexual activity had the most impact on subsequent academic achievement, followed by educational goals.