Early adolescent sexual experiences have been found to be associated with lower levels of well-being; however, this relationship has been found to be better explained through the adolescent’s perception of their sexual behavior. The present study explored the implications of adolescent sexual guilt on the development of self-esteem across emerging adulthood. Using secondary data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health the present study found that self-esteem developed in quadratic fashion from adolescence to adulthood. Sexual guilt was associated with lower levels in self-esteem at each of the four time-points from adolescence to adulthood for both people of color and white individuals. The association between sexual guilt and the change in self-esteem was only significant for people of color. The study illustrates the importance of sex-positive conversations around sexual behavior and safety to reduce the development of guilt and the lasting influence guilt has on development. Additionally, this study illustrates unique risks which people of color experience.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Cultural Studies