Peer Rejection, Affiliation with Deviant Peers, Delinquency, and Risky Sexual Behavior
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Risky sexual behavior poses significant health risks by increasing sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. Previous research has documented many factors related to risky sexual behavior. This study adds to the literature by proposing a prospective, developmental model of peer factors related to risky sexual behavior. Developmental pathways to risky sexual behavior were examined in a sample of 517 individuals (51 % female; 82 % European American, 16 % African American, 2 % other) followed from age 5–27. Structural equation models examined direct and indirect effects of peer rejection (assessed via peer nominations at ages 5, 6, 7, and 8), affiliation with deviant peers (assessed via self-report at ages 11 and 12), and delinquency (assessed via maternal report at ages 10 and 16) on risky sexual behavior (assessed via self-report at age 27). More peer rejection during childhood, affiliation with deviant peers during pre- adolescence, and delinquency in childhood and adolescence predicted more risky sexual behavior through age 27, although delinquency at age 16 was the only risk factor that had a significant direct effect on risky sexual behavior through age 27 above and beyond the other risk factors. Peer rejection was related to subsequent risk factors for girls but not boys. Peer risk factors as early as age 5 shape developmental pathways through childhood and adolescence and have implications for risky sexual behavior into adulthood.
KeywordsDelinquency Deviant peers Peer rejection Risky sexual behavior
The Child Development Project has been funded by grants MH56961, MH57024, and MH57095 from the National Institute of Mental Health, HD30572 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and DA016903 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Kenneth A. Dodge is supported by Senior Scientist award 2K05 DA015226 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. We are grateful to the individuals who have participated in this research.
JEL conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and drafted the manuscript; KAD, RGF, JEB, and GSP participated in the design and coordination of the study and provided constructive feedback on drafts of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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