Understanding the Consequences of Adolescent Sex in Behavioral Context

Sebastian F. Daza, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Eric Grodsky, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Bill McCarthy, University of California, Davis

Previous research has shown a negative relationship between adolescent sexual activity and out comes such as self-esteem, depression, and academic achievement. Recent studies, however, suggest that detrimental effects associated with sexual activity among adolescents are conditional on the social context in which the behavior occurs and the meanings youth ascribe to sexual behavior. We add to this literature by considering the configuration of behaviors in which adolescent sex occurs as a marker of the social meaning of sexual intercourse. This paper explores how sexual intercourse, co-occurring with different configurations of adolescent behavior, is related to academic attainment (GPA), mental health (depression), and school problems. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent, and Latent Class Analysis (LCA), our preliminary results show that behavior profiles account for part of the heterogeneity of sexual activity consequences. This evidence supports the hypothesis that sexual activity has different meanings and implications among adolescents.

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Presented in Session 123: Adolescent Risk Behaviors and Health