Associated factors in sexual risk taking; parental involvement important.

Initiation of sexual risk taking and activity in adolescents can be preceded by certain associated factors. Some factors have been identified to be predictive of adolescent transition from being sexually abstinent to engaging in risky sexual activity like oral sex and sexual intercourse.1 A number of youth engage in oral sex as a gateway to sexual intercourse. Oral sex is sex. Moreover, like all other forms of risky sexual activity, it is strongly associated with transmitting and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Recent studies have shown the increasing incidence of oral cancers are associated with oral sexual activity and acquisition of HPV infection.2 A recent study was conducted to evaluate the best predictors for sexual transition among adolescents. The study examined factors associated with transitions from abstinence to oral sex experience and oral sex to intercourse, as well as factors associated with abstinence to sexual intercourse. In addition, it examines whether or not there are transition links between male and females due to societal pressures.1 The study participants were adolescents aged 13 to 16 from eight regional high schools. A sample of 343 students completed a baseline assessment and 300 students completed both parts of the survey. The survey collected information on the students’ age, family structure, and different measures for self-esteem, parental involvement, drug usage, academic success and association with deviant peers.

This survey response was from predominantly white females with a mean age of 14.8 years as well as a mean household of about 4.3 members. At the baseline survey, 235 of the participants reported no sexual experience but at the second survey point 34 participants had engaged in sexual behavior since the baseline. The researchers found that boys who engage in intimate sexual behavior by the second survey period reported much lower self-esteem and lower religiosity compared to those who did not. Higher alcohol usage and high self-esteem were strong predictors for a girl’s transition to higher sexual activity by the second survey. The link between self-esteem and sexual transitions may warrant future research, especially in boys.

From the study on the transitions it is apparent that there is a dichotomy between psychosocial profiles of boys and girls. However, lower religiosity was found to be linked with greater sexual experience in both boys and girls.

In another study, researchers found that increased parental monitoring during early adolescence, decreased the initiation of sexual intercourse at an earlier age.3 Additional research has shown that it is important for parents to stay connected and involved in their adolescent’s life, because regular conversations on sexual health is an extremely powerful tool to combat risky sexual behavior.4 The study gives a good initial look at predictive factors of intimate sexual behavior in adolescents but still needs to incorporate longer periods of evaluation. Although this study was limited by not having a larger sample size, this study has demonstrated the need for a targeted health initiatives for each gender, and the understanding of the social pressures that adolescents face with an increasingly sexually saturated media.

References:

1. Ronis ST, O’Sullivan LF. A longitudinal analysis of predictors of male and female adolescents’ transition to intimate sexual behavior. J Adolesc Health 2011; 49(3): 321-323.

2. Chaturvedi AK, Engels EA, Pfeiffer RM, et al. Human papillomavirus and rising oropharyngeal cancer incidence in the United States. J Clin Oncol. 2011;29(32):4294–4301.

3. Huang D. Parental Monitoring During Early Adolescence Deters Adolescent Sexual Initiation: Discrete-Time Survival Mixture Analysis. J Child Fam Stud. 2011;20(4):511-520.

4. Markham CM, Lormand D, Gloppen KM, Peskin MF, Flores B, Low B, House LD. Connectedness as a predictor of sexual and reproductive health outcomes for youth. J Adolesc Health 2010;46(3):23-41.

Reviewed: March 2012.