Believing Sexual Activity Makes One An Adult: Associations with Effective Parenting, and Adolescents' Educational Investments and Cumulative Sexual Risk-Taking
Type of Degreethesis
Human Development and Family Studies
MetadataShow full item record
Adolescent sexual risk-taking has been a hot topic in research and prevention work over the past decade, however, much of the research has focused on the environmental and biological predictors of sexual risk taking and teenage pregnancy (e.g., parenting, environment, early maturation, etc.), while very little research or prevention work has focused on examining the internal motivation of adolescents to engage in sexual risk-taking behaviors. For the present study, we sought to understand the effects of effective parenting and educational investment on adolescents’ belief that sexual activity makes one an adult, and the overall effect on adolescents’ cumulative sexual risk-taking. The study sample included data prior to implementation of a relationship education program from 1582 high school students from 24 high schools across the southeast. In the study sample, 760 adolescents reported being sexually experienced and 822 of the adolescents reported being sexually inexperienced. Results of the study showed that more effective parenting and greater adolescent investment in education were associated with a weaker belief that sexual activity makes one an adult. More effective parenting and a weaker belief that sexual activity makes one an adult were associated directly with lower adolescent cumulative sexual risk-taking, whereas greater adolescent investment in education had an indirect effect on adolescents’ cumulative sexual risk taking through the belief that sexual activity makes one an adult. Multigroup analysis revealed the influence of effective parenting on the belief that sexual activity makes one an adult was the same for sexually experienced and inexperienced adolescents. The association between educational investment and the belief that sexual activity makes one and adult, while significant and negative for both groups, was stronger for sexually inexperienced adolescents. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future studies are discussed.