Predicting when adolescent risky sexual behavior does not co-occur with other problem behaviors: A prospective study of family, peer, and individual factors
Marchand, Erica J., 1977-
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Marchand, Erica J., 1977-
Risky sexual behavior (RSB) places adolescents at risk for unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection, and research is needed to understand the predictors of adolescent RSB and targets for future intervention. The current study used the social contextual model of problem behavior development to examine family, peer, and individual influences on adolescents' sexual behavior and the relationship between RSB and other problem behaviors. Data were previously collected from 998 adolescents and their families. First, I examined the level of agreement between adolescents' and parents' perceptions of family relationships, parental monitoring, and adolescents' friendships and which perceptions were more strongly related to adolescent problem behavior. Pearson bivariate correlations between parent and adolescent perceptions were small. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that adolescent report was a better predictor of problem behavior than was parent report. Second, I assessed whether positive family relations, parental monitoring, family conflict, and parent-adolescent communication about sex in earlier adolescence were related to RSB in later adolescence. Structural equation modeling results suggested that the timing and frequency of parent-adolescent communication about sex and parent monitoring in earlier adolescence were related to RSB in later adolescence among the sample as a whole; results varied somewhat by gender. Third, I examined participants' membership in four risk behavior groups in late adolescence (low problem behavior, RSB only, substance use only, and RSB plus substance use), identified family, peer, and individual factors that differentiated teens in each group, and explored differences by sex and ethnicity. Females were more likely than males to report engaging in a combination of RSB and patterned substance use, and African Americans of both sexes were more likely than European Americans to report engaging in RSB in the absence of other behaviors. The variable that most reliably distinguished among risk groups for both males and females was friend drug use in late adolescence. Discussion considers reasons for these findings and highlights the roles of parent monitoring, parent-adolescent communication about sex, and gender and sociocultural factors in RSB prevention.
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