Relationship Between Knowledge about Puberty and Anticipated Sexual Risk Taking Behavior in Young Adolescents
Koo, H. P. (2005, December). Relationship Between Knowledge about Puberty and Anticipated Sexual Risk Taking Behavior in Young Adolescents. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
Among young adolescents, rates of initiating sexual behavior are increasing, with negative health and other consequences. Pubertal maturation is related to initiating sexual activity. We are exploring the relationship over four time points between the young adolescent's knowledge about puberty, which increases with maturation, to anticipated sexual behavior. Preliminary analysis used baseline data from a project to delay sexual debut among adolescents. 562 5th graders in Washington DC completed a survey regarding their knowledge about puberty, their own level of puberty, and other questions including perceptions of the benefits of not having sex, resisting pressure to have sex, and anticipated sexual risky behavior. We expected that higher levels of knowledge about puberty would be associated with being less likely to anticipate sexual activity and more likely to report more reasons for not having sex. We also expected that higher levels of knowledge about puberty and positive perceptions about resisting pressure and the benefits of not having sex would lead to a lower likelihood of anticipated sexual behavior. Preliminary logistic regression results indicate confirmation of the relationship between knowledge about puberty and perceived benefits to not having sex. Additionally, children who perceived a medium number of benefits to not having sex were significantly more likely to be in the higher risk group for anticipated sexual activity. Finally, children who reported the lowest levels of resisting peer pressure to have sex were more likely to anticipate sexual risk taking. Longitudinal analysis and the implications of these findings will be presented and discussed.