In this book, Mignon Moore proposes some interesting theories about the reasons for early sexual initiation among adolescents in disadvantaged neighborhoods. His first theory has to do with societal structure. According to him, disadvantaged neighborhoods have a relative lack of work, which throws the unemployment numbers out of whack, which causes a breakdown in the proper functioning of adult-adolescent relationships in society as a whole, leading youths to experiment with sexuality sooner. His second argument has to do with family structure. According to him, disadvantaged neighborhoods have higher incidences of family disruptions (be it single-parent households, divorce, forced relocation, what have you), which leads to breakdowns in the relationship between parent and child, which is a major factor in predicting early adolescent sexual activity.
Masters, N., Beadnell, B., Morrison, D., Hoppe, M., & Gillmore, M. (2008, June). The Opposite of Sex? Adolescents’ Thoughts About Abstinence and Sex, and Their Sexual Behavior. Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health, 40(2), 87-93.
This article I found particularly interesting. It analyzes the relationships between adolescents’ intentions to stay abstinent or to have sex, and compares them with findings about the actual outcomes of those intentions. The findings are particularly remarkable in that there does not seem to be a clear-cut mutually exclusive mechanism in youth’s minds about these two topics. That is to say, intending to stay abstinent does not seem to have a very large influence on not having sex, in the context of this study.
Theo G M Sandfort, Mark Orr, Jennifer S Hirsch, John Santelli. (2008). Long-Term Health Correlates of Timing of Sexual Debut: Results From a National US Study. American Journal of Public Health, 98(1), 155-61. Retrieved December 11, 2008, from ABI/ INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1408937661).
This Study presents some basic statistics about the health affects and risks that correlate with early sexual initiation. Among those listed are greater likelihood of contraction of sexually transmitted infections, as well as an increase in the probability of having intercourse with a partner identified as risky, and a decrease in general health among males. Also interesting is the greater likelihood of early sexually active adolescents in underestimating risks of HIV infection.
Lohman, Brenda J., Billings, Amanda. (2008). Protective and Risk Factors Associated with Adolescent Boys’ Early Sexual Debut and Risky Sexual Behaviors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37(4), 723-735.
There are many findings and discussions in this study, but what I found particularly useful for my needs is the Application Section at the end. The study points out that by late middle school, much of the window of opportunity for intervention has already passed, and so initiatives aimed at delaying adolescent sexual debut should focus on sixth and seventh grades and younger to be effective. Also poignant was the proposal that effective intervention initiatives should involve both parents and schools in a coordinated effort to work on the multiple risk factors for early sex activity in adolescents.
Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, James Jaccard, Patricia Dittus, Bernardo Gonzalez, Alida Bouris. (2008). A Conceptual Framework for the Analysis of Risk and Problem Behaviors: The Case of Adolescent Sexual Behavior. Social Work Research, 32(1), 29-45.
What I found fascinating about this article more than anything else was its dealing with factors that go through the mind of adolescents when deciding to have sex. Particularly intriguing was the disconnect that was pointed out between the common focus of intervention techniques, such as raising awareness of the risks of pregnancy and STI transmission, and the reasons that adolescents decide to have sex (social and pleasure factors, mainly) The study intelligently points out that to be truly effective, intervention approaches must address these social and pleasure factors, and put them in an appropriate context in relation to everything else with the hope that adolescents will then be better equipped to make wise decisions.