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Determinants of sexual behavior in children and young adolescents.


Int Conf AIDS. 1996 Jul 7-12;11(1):176 (abstract no. Mo.D.1709). Unique

Objectives: In view of the increasingly pre- and peripubertal onset of sexual risk behavior, especially in disadvantaged populations, to identify determinants of sexual behavior in several cohorts of children and young adolescents. Methods: We studied sexual behavior and its determinants by a parent-administered Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991) in 124 high-risk boys age 5-11 (survey 1), 331 boys age 6-10 (survey 2) and 355 girls of the same age from a community sample (survey 3), and by a comprehensive parent- and child-administered interview protocol in 99 high-risk boys (age 7-12) and their mothers (study 4). Results: The high-risk boys and, less so, the community boys, but not the community girls, had higher rates of both sexual and other problem behaviors than non-clinical norm samples. In surveys 1-3, sexual problem behaviors were significantly related to other problem behaviors, but not to age, ethnicity, or socio-economic level. In Study 4, a regression equation developed to predict antisocial behavior in high-risk boys also strongly predicted sexual behavior; strongest predictors were parent-child conflict and parental psychopathology. Sexuality-specific family predictors further contributed. Conclusions: Sexual problem behaviors in childhood and early adolescence are associated with psychopathologic symptoms and predicted to a marked extent by family predictors of non-sexual) antisocial behavior. These findings support a family orientation for programs to reduce sexual risk behaviors in late childhood and early adolescence.

*Sex Behavior


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