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Ho's, Flippers, and Woo-Wops: The social environment of urban youth sexual decision making

Rebecca Cabral, PhD1, Sue C. Swanson, PhD2, Tara B. Giblin, MPH, CHES3, Jacqueline Butler, MSW2, and Nancy Burnett, BS4. (1) Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, MS K-34, Atlanta, GA 30341, (2) Research, Measurement and Statistics, Axiom Management Resources, 845 Lakeshore Drive, Duluth, GA 30096, (3) Division of Reproductive Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop K-34, Atlanta, GA 30341, 770 488-6237, tgiblin@cdc.gov, (4) Division of Reproductive Health, CDC/NCCDPHP, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, MS-K34, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724

Objective: To describe the perceived social context, including roles and expectations, in which inner city African American youth make choices about sexual behavior. Methods: Videotaped focus groups (n=24) were conducted with young, low income African American males and females, aged 15-17 and 18-20, in six cities to identify the relevant social and cultural norms that affect reproductive and sexual decision-making and behavior. Transcripts of the videotapes were coded for recurring themes and perceived characteristics of youth in their communities who make risky and safe choices. Results: Adolescent males and females, using shared language with unique idiomatic features, described a rich and nuanced social environment within which social relationships and sexual behavior are negotiated. Participants identified three types of facilitators of risk reduction and resistance to peer pressure. Key archetypes and themes around healthy and unhealthy sexual and reproductive decision making will be presented. Conclusions: Realistic situations and typologies of behavior, thoughts, and attributes of youth, who make safe and risky decisions about sex and contraception, using appropriate language, can be used by health educators to develop engaging stories for prevention materials and entertainment-education strategies.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learning Objectives

    Keywords: Adolescent Health, Sexual Risk Behavior

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

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