Although a large body of research has examined the negative outcomes that occur when Latina adolescents engage in sexual activity, relatively little research explores the determinants that may contribute to these behaviors. In the current study, an ecological community psychological approach was used to examine the impact that substance use, sexual self-efficacy, parental communication, normative peer pressure, acculturation, educational aspirations, grades, and gang activity have on adolescent sexual behavior. The sample consisted of 217 participants (mean age of 14.6) who self-identified as Latina from the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area of California in the United States. The results indicate that about a third of the sample had engaged in one or more sexual behaviors. Overall, greater usage of substances was associated with greater numbers of sexual behaviors. Girls who reported engaging in two or more sexual behaviors reported more frequent marijuana and alcohol use. The girls who reported high sexual self-efficacy engaged in few to no sexual behaviors. Additionally, parental communication, normative peer pressure, acculturation, and educational aspirations were unrelated to their sexual behavior. However, the majority of girls who reported receiving good grades also reported no sexual activity. Moreover, girls who reported no sexual behavior also reported no gang activity. The results indicate that a multi-level approach to examining the psycho-social determinants of sexual activity in Latina girls provides a more comprehensive picture of their sexual decision making.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 13, 2012
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