July 16, 1998

Individual, peer and family predicators of adolescent sexual experiences: A longitudinal study.

Abstract: "Identifying factors in middle adolescence related to later negative outcomes of adolescent sexual activity (i.e. pregnancy, contraction of sexually-transmitted diseases, and sexual coercion victimization) may provide a better understanding of sexual transitions in this age group and enable prevention programs both to target those adolescents most at risk more effectively and to help adolescents successfully alter risky behavior. It has been suggested that factors at the individual level (externalizing problem behaviors and internalizing problems), peer level (social competence in peer relationships) and family level (parental supervision, control and acceptance) are related to adolescents' sexual behavior and experiences. 121 moderately at-risk adolescents, their mothers, and peers were studied at two points: when the adolescents were in 9th or 10th grade and then two years later. It was hypothesized that higher levels of externalizing problem behaviors and internalizing problems, and lower levels of social competence in peer relationships, maternal supervision and control, and maternal openness would predict a greater likelihood of adolescent negative sexual outcomes (pregnancy, STD and sexual victimization). Results indicated that higher levels of adolescent externalizing and internalizing problems at Wave 1 were related to a greater chance of having been diagnosed with an STD and having been sexually coerced by Wave 2. Adolescents' social competence in peer relationships was related to later sexual outcomes only at the trend level of significance. More maternal control (e.g. using firm discipline) at Wave 1 was related to a lower likelihood of adolescents having been sexually coerced by Wave 2. Findings suggest that for a sample of adolescents most likely to be targeted for intervention programs, negative outcomes of sexual activity (particularly sexual coercion victimization) are very common for girls, emotional contexts in which intercourse occurs differs by gender and race, and non-sexual factors and functioning in mid-adolescence are related to later sexual outcomes."
Heather Anne O'Beirne
University of Virginia
Joseph P. Allen
Department of Psychology
Date Added November 5, 2016
Date Modifed October 17, 2017
Collection UVA scholarship on sexual violence, 1974-

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