Predictors of Varying Emergent Adolescent and Young Adult Sexual Patterns

Bianka Reese, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sophie Choukas-Bradley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Carolyn Tucker Halpern, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Most research on adolescent sexual behavior has focused on the predictors and implications of the timing of first vaginal intercourse. Reducing adolescent sexuality to a single event does not allow consideration of the timing, sequencing, and spacing of a variety of sexual behaviors beyond vaginal sex. These various behaviors interact with other biological, psychological, and social factors to contribute to the emergence of a sexual self. Using a nationally representative sample, the goal of this paper is to provide a more comprehensive view of sexuality by examining the role of an extensive array of psychosocial, behavioral, physical, and sociodemographic characteristics on various patterns of emerging sexual behavior during adolescence and young adulthood. Our results indicate that race, pubertal timing, BMI, religious services attendance, parental attitudes toward education, parent-child relationship quality, and school attachment predict adolescent sexual initiation patterns and the effects of these factors are different for males and females.

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Presented in Session 31: Sexual Behavior and HIV Risk in Context