Racial/Ethnic and Gender Variation in Adolescent Sexual Decision-Making Frameworks

Kimberly A. Daniels, University of Texas at Austin
Nancy S. Landale, Pennsylvania State University

Differences in adolescent sexual debut and activity across race/ethnicity and gender are well-documented; however, this research lacks a comprehensive analysis of factors that shape the sexual decision-making framework of adolescents with attention to variation across race/ethnicity and gender. Using the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we examine race/ethnic and gender variation in attitudes about sex, pregnancy, birth control, reproductive knowledge and parental approval and communication about sex. Adolescent females hold more restrictive attitudes about sex and pregnancy, greater knowledge and motivations for use of birth control, higher levels of parental communication and lower levels of parental approval of sexual activity. Compared to whites, black adolescents show higher motivations for sex and pregnancy and lower reproductive knowledge and motivations for birth control use. Analyses of Mexican American teens show differences across generations with later generations more motivated for sex, pregnancy and birth control use.

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Presented in Session 109: Adolescent Sexual Behavior and Reproductive Health