Date: 02 Nov 2013

A Longitudinal Examination of Parenting Processes and Latino Youth’s Risky Sexual Behaviors

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Abstract

Latino adolescents engage in riskier sexual behaviors compared to their peers, shown by their higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and lower rates of condom usage; therefore, examining the precursors and correlates of these risky sexual behaviors is important for prevention–intervention program development. Based on cultural–ecological, symbolic interaction, and gender socialization perspectives, we examined associations among mothers’ and fathers’ parenting and Latino youth’s sexual risk over a 5 year period. Further, we investigated the direct and moderating roles of acculturation (e.g., language spoken in the home), nativity (e.g., citizenship status), and adolescents’ gender. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (N = 1,899 Latino youth; 49 % female), we conducted a multi-level path model controlling for adolescents’ age and prior sexual experience. Our findings revealed that more strictness by mothers and less strictness by fathers at Time 1 were related to lower sexual risk for adolescents at Time 2. Additionally, more monitoring by fathers at Time 2 was associated with lower sexual risk for adolescents at Time 3. Significant gender differences were found such that there were stronger associations among parenting processes and sexual risk for girls than for boys. Finally, we found support for the immigrant paradox (foreign-born youth reported lower sexual risk than US-born youth) and greater gender differences (boys had riskier sexual behaviors than girls) for immigrant compared to US-born youth. The findings reveal the complex associations among parenting processes, nativity status, gender, and sexual risk for Latino adolescents.