Factors That Affect Sexual Behavior

Many studies have been conducted on what factors affect adolescent sexual behavior. In this section you will find information on parental impact on sexual activity and contraceptive use, adolescent motivations for sex, religiosity, and other outside factors such as academic success, trouble with the law, and age disparity between sexual partners.

National Survey of Adolescents and Young Adults: Sexual Health Knowledge, Attitudes, and Experiences

Source: T. Hoff, et al, National Survey of Adolescents and Young Adults: Sexual Health Knowledge, Attitudes, and Experiences, (Menlo Park, CA: Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, 2003), 14.

Description:

This survey contains information on adolescent sexual health knowledge, attitudes toward sex, and statistics on sexual experience.

Key Statistics:

  • 72% of female participants and 69% of male participants were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about HIV/AIDS.
  • 73% of female participants and 72% of male participants were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about other STDs.
  • 75% of female participants and 64% of male participants were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about unintended pregnancy.
  • 60% of female participants and 66% of male participants ages 15–17 “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that waiting to have sex is a nice idea but nobody really does.
  • 58% of female participants and 59% of male participants ages 15–17 "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" there is pressure to have sex by a certain age.
  • 47% of female participants and 56% of male participants ages 15–17 “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” once you have had sex it is harder to say no the next time.
  • 27% of female participants and 50% of male participants ages 15–17 “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” if you have been seeing someone for a while it is expected that you will have sex.
  • 38% of female participants and 54% of male participants ages 15–17 “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that oral sex is not as a big of a deal as sexual intercourse.

To View this Resource:www.kff.org/youthhivstds/3218-index.cfm


Greater Expectations: Adolescents’ Positive Motivations for Sex

Source: Mary Ott, et al, “Greater Expectations: Adolescents’ Positive Motivations for Sex,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 38.2 (June 2006).

Description: This article reports the findings of a study to determine why adolescents engage in sexual intercourse. The study was conducted on a sample of ninth-grade students.

Key Statistics:

  • When asked about their relationship goals and reasons for having sex, participants cited intimacy as their primary goal most frequently followed by social status and sexual pleasure.
  • Females tended to cite intimacy as a goal more often than males, and sexual pleasure as a goal less often than males.
  • Adolescents expected that sex would most likely lead to sexual pleasure, then intimacy and, finally, social status.

To View this Resource:www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3808406.html


Maternal Correlates of Adolescent Sexual and Contraceptive Behavior

Source: James Jaccard, et al, “Maternal Correlates of Adolescent Sexual and Contraceptive Behavior,” Family Planning Perspectives, 28.4 (July/August 1996).

Description: This report contains the findings of a study to determine the impact of maternal discussions about birth control and sexual activity on the sexual behavior of adolescents.

Key Statistics:

  • In a survey of 751 black young people, adolescent perceptions of maternal disapproval of premarital sex and satisfaction with the mother-child relationship were significantly related to abstinence from adolescent sexual activity and to less-frequent sexual intercourse and more consistent use of contraceptives among sexually active young people.
  • Teenagers who reported a low level of satisfaction with their mother were more than twice as likely as those highly satisfied with their relationship to be having sexual intercourse.
  • Discussions about birth control were associated with an increased likelihood that adolescents were sexually active. Such discussions were not significantly related to consistent contraceptive use for female adolescents, but were associated with increased contraceptive use for male teenagers.

To View this Resource: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3808406.html


Early Predictors of Sexual Behavior: Implications for Young Adolescents and their Parents

Source: Lisa Lierberman, “Early Predictors of Sexual Behavior: Implications for Young Adolescents and their Parents,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 38.2 (June 2006).

Description: This report contains the findings of a study to examine characteristics of sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade characteristics as predictors of sexual activity in ninth grade.

Key Statistics:

  • Seventh graders in serious relationships with older teenagers—uniquely defined as those two or more years older—have an increased likelihood of having sexual intercourse in the ninth grade.
  • Seventh graders of both genders who have had serious romantic relationships had peers who were more accepting of sexual activity, had experienced more unwanted sexual advances and situations that could lead to sex (i.e., where parental monitoring is limited), and, for females, had undergone earlier menarche.

To View this Resource: www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3811206.html


Sexual Intentions of Black Preadolescents: Associations with Risk and Adaptive Behaviors

Source: Rex Forehand, et al, “Sexual Intentions of Black Preadolescents: Associations with Risk and Adaptive Behaviors,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37.1 (March 2005).

Description: This report contains the findings of a study to determine what risk factors impact adolescent sexual behavior and sexual intentions.

Key Statistics:

  • Alcohol consumption and having been in trouble with the police were the primary youth-reported risk behaviors associated with increased odds of intending to have intercourse.
  • Being in trouble at home was the primary parent-reported risk behavior associated with increased odds of intending to have intercourse.
  • Performing well on schoolwork was associated with reduced odds of intending to engage in sex.

To View this Resource: www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3701305.html


Parents’ Smoking, Seat Belt Nonuse May Be Linked to Increased Odds of Adolescent Sexual Debut

Source: L. Remez, “Parents’ Smoking, Seat Belt Nonuse May Be Linked to Increased Odds of Adolescent Sexual Debut,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 35.2 (March/April 2003).

Description: This report contains the findings of a study to examine the relationship between parental smoking and seat belt non-use and the age of onset of adolescent sexual activity.

Key Statistics:

  • An adolescent whose parent smokes has independently elevated odds of ever having sex and of having sex before age 15.
  • Adolescent males whose parent rarely uses seat belts have significantly increased odds of ever having sex.

To View this Resource: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3510203.html


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