Online Program

Exploring Dating Violence/Abuse and Sexual Risk Taking among African American and Latino Adolescents

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

Lynn Roberts, PhD, Community Health and Social Sciences, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, New York, NY
Brenda Seals, PhD, MPH, Center for Asian Health, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Olivia Orta, Doctoral Candidate, Epidemiology, Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
BACKGROUND: Sexual risk taking of low-income youth living in high risk cities is a complex public health issue combing issues of the lived experiences of discrimination, violence and abuse. Addressing the social service needs of such youth requires understanding this complex array of experiences featuring the youth voices.

METHODS: Focus groups of African American and Latino adolescents answered questions about: 1) how they experienced discrimination; and 2) how discrimination of relates to dating abuse and violence and sexual risk taking. 

RESULTS: Participants included African American (n=16), Latino (n=16), males (n=16) and females (n=16), and mean age=16.6. Youth described engagement in risky sexual behavior both willingly and not willingly including having early sex, sex without condoms, and having multiple partners.  They talked about: 1) pervasive experienced discrimination based on skin color, gender, and class; 2) forms of resilience and resistance; 3) engaging in a wide range of violent behaviors and relationships; and 4) being both victims and perpetrators. Women described the need for confidence and being financially independent as key components to being in a position to use protection. Some males described being sorry for what they did to girls when they saw their long term consequences. 

DISCUSSION: Addressing the sexual health needs of youth includes addressing complex issues such as interpersonal violence and prejudice. Social workers are uniquely positioned to enhance the resilience of inner city youth living with neighborhoods with prevalent discrimination and violence. Future longitudinal studies using larger samples may better describe how these relationships determine sexual risk.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe pervasiveness of complexity of sexual risk behaviors of urban African American and Latino youth. Explain how youth experience discrimination and violence as it is related to their HIV risk behaviors. Discuss social work interventions to increase resilience and positive resistance factors as part of HIV prevention.

Keyword(s): Social Work, Violence & Injury Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a professor of Public Health for over 15 years, I have worked extensively with African American and Latino students and projects to improve the health of inner city youth. Our current study provides unique data on violence among adolescents.
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.