Sources of information on sex and antecedents of early sexual initiation among urban Latino youth
Introduction: Latino youth in the US have higher rates of earlier sexual initiation compared to white peers, placing them at increased risk for negative health, academic, and social outcomes. Ensuring that youth receive accurate information about sex is critical for promoting healthy decision making. This study documents the relationships between sources of information on sex and physical development and precursors to early sexual activity in a large sample of Latino youth. Methods: Surveys were conducted with 2620 sixth graders from 27 schools serving predominantly Hispanic students in urban cities in the US. Multivariate analyses examined the association between sources of information about sex and antecedents of early sexual initiation. Results: Most respondents reported that they would ask parents and other relatives questions about sex—85% of girls and 75% percent of boys. In contrast, about half girls and 40% of boys reported that they would ask their peers these questions. Multivariate analyses show a significant gender difference in getting information from parents or other relatives: girls who get information from these sources are less likely to engage in sexual risk-taking behaviors (OR= 0.40, p<.001), while association for boys is not significant. In contrast, youth have a higher likelihood of involvement in sexual risk-taking behavior if they get information from peers (OR: 2.57, p<.001) or the media (1.53, p<0.001). Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of parent-child communication about sex. Encouraging parents and other responsible adults to talk to their teens, especially girls, about sex can lead to positive health outcomes.
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences
Describe results from a study documenting the relationship between young Latino adolescents’ sources of information on sex and physical development and their involvement in behaviors that are precursors to sexual activity
Discuss the implications of study’s findings to the field of teen pregnancy prevention
Keywords: Hispanic Youth, Sexual Risk Behavior
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a senior research associate for the project that will be discussed in the paper. I am a doctorate-trained researcher who has worked on this and other federally-funded research projects. I have previously presented at APHA and other conferences on topics including youth development and substance abuse in the workforce. I have been conducting research on youth development, sexual health, and other topics for the past 14 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.