Adolescent Sexual Behavior

Topics: Human sexuality, Human sexual behavior, Sexual intercourse Pages: 7 (2249 words) Published: September 25, 2010

Adolescent sexual behavior refers to sexual feelings, behavior, and development in adolescents. It is a stage of human sexuality. The sexual behavior of adolescents is influenced by their culture’s norms and mores, their sexual orientation and the issues of social control. Sexuality is a cultural issue. For humans, sex is a matter of cultural meaning and personal choice than biological programming.

Costs and Benefits of Sexual Behavior

According to a 2004 study, the rates of adolescent sexual intercourse and birth rates to teenagers in the United States have declined, but a majority of adolescents have been engaging in sexual intercourse before completing high school. 42% of high school students did not use a condom during their last sexual encounter and 14% engaged in sexual activity with approximately four partners. Reducing adolescent sexual activity and the risk for sexually transmitted diseases is a priority under Healthy People 2010, a set of health objectives for the nation to achieve over the first decade of the new century. (Deptula, Shoeny, Slavick, 35)

Studies show that there is a link between sexual attitudes and sexual behavior. Attitudes are related to condom use and sexual activity is for both younger and older adolescents. Not surprisingly, high school students reported that positive attitudes toward sex were related to engagement in sexual activity. It was particularly concerning sexual pleasure. Worries about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections were related to condom use. Theories suggest that attitudes are a key part in the process of making behavioral decisions. The Health Belief Model, a psychological model that attempts to explain and predict health behaviors, is determined by focusing on the attitudes and beliefs of individual.

The Decisional Balance model postulates that behavioral decisions are made by assessing and comparing relative gains or losses associated with behavioral engagement. The factors include: costs for the individual and significant others as well as approval from oneself and significant others. In a study that examined the Costs and Benefits of condom use it was found that the ratings for perceived behavioral costs of protection remained constant over time while perceived benefits of birth control and condom use were associated with behavior change. (Deptula, Shoeny, Slavick, 35)

The relation between attitudes and sexual decision-making may also be influenced by the impact of demographic factors such as age, gender, and religion, on attitudes. Boys had more positive attitudes towards sex than girls and girls had more positive views of abstinence. Males also had more liberal attitudes towards premarital casual sex and anxiety, fear and guilt concerning sexuality. They were also more likely to report greater benefits associated with sexual activities than females. Despite the gender differences in attitudes, the beliefs that each held are important predictors for both males and females. Attitudes towards sex become more positive with age and the gender differences in attitudes decreased with age.

When an analyses conducted to determine is attitudes words sexual activity were majorly associated with engaging in sexual behavior, it was revealed that adolescents who had never engaged in sexual activity reported more cost associated with intercourse and fewer benefits compared to those who were sexually active. Engagement in sexual activity was linked to a perception of lower costs and greater benefits for intercourse.

The primary purpose of the study was to determine which two aspects of attitudes, cost and benefits, predicted parallel and future sexual activity. The effects of costs were equivalent, if not stronger than benefits. The study also suggested that the perception of costs and benefits were both influential in adolescents’ decisions to engage in sexual activity.

Based on the theory of Decisional Balance, it is expected that...
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