Youth who initiate sexual intercourse in early adolescence (age 11-14) experience multiple risks, including concurrent adjustment problems and unsafe sexual practices. The current study tested two models describing the links between childhood precursors, early adolescent risk factors, and adolescent sexual activity: a cumulative model and a meditational model. A longitudinal sample of 694 boys and girls from four geographical locations was utilized, with data collected from kindergarten through high school. Structural equation models revealed that, irrespective of gender or race, high rates of aggressive disruptive behaviors and attention problems at school entry increased risk for a constellation of problem behaviors in middle school (school maladjustment, antisocial activity, and substance use) which, in turn, promoted the early initiation of sexual activity. Implications are discussed for developmental models of early sexual activity and for prevention programming.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health