Adolescents’ self identities and sexual debut

Monica A. Longmore, Bowling Green State University
Wendy D. Manning, Bowling Green State University
Peggy C. Giordano, Bowling Green State University

Recent trends in American adolescents’ reproductive health and fertility-related behaviours include earlier sexual debut (Alan Guttmacher Institute 2002), a greater number of sexual partners (Abma and Sonenstein 2001), increased involvement in non-dating sexual experiences (Manning, Longmore, and Giordano forthcoming), high rates of unplanned pregnancy (Martin et al. 2003), and premature parenthood (Darroch and Singh 1999). Thus, the need to understand the malleable factors that can result in a decrease in sexual risk is critical. One fruitful approach is to focus on the interplay of adolescents’ identities that may influence sexual decision-making. It is well accepted that social relationships and associated demographic background provide influence adolescents’ social development. Indeed, extensive bodies of research demonstrate that parental and peer attitudes and behaviour strongly influence adolescent sexual behaviours, and researchers recognize that romantic partners, too, are an influential domain within which adolescent social development takes place

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Presented in Session 133: Adolescent sexuality and contraception