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Smartest Teenagers Tend to Delay Sex

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Halpern adds that "we know from previous studies that providing relevant, understandable information is not sufficient to change behavior. It is an important first step."

Research like this study can enlighten parents and educators about the best ways to help teens at risk, Blum says. "If it is true that brighter kids have intercourse later because they have a greater set of options and more stimulation in their lives, then the challenge becomes how to create more stimulating environments for kids of normal intelligence," he says.

Parents' behavior can help, too, Halpern says. "Being connected to parents and religious organizations and schools seems to be part of the process that protects adolescents. That's why it's so important for parents to act in ways that show they are concerned, interested, available. Show your teens you have time you can spend with them and want to spend with them."

She offers another tip for success: "Don't have long conversations saying 'Don't do this; Don't do that.' Instead, focus on stimulating positive, constructive behaviors. Frame your message in a positive way."

Vital Information:

  • A new study shows that highly intelligent teens are more likely to delay sex and other intimate behaviors, as are the least intelligent teens.
  • Researchers believe these two groups delay sex for different reasons.
  • One reason the more intelligent teens may delay sex is that they tend to be focused on future goals and activities, while for teens with lower intelligence, parents and teachers may be more protective.
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