, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 1513-1526
Date: 11 Dec 2013

Testing Pathways Linking Exposure to Community Violence and Sexual Behaviors Among African American Youth

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Abstract

Exposure to community violence and HIV sexual risks are two major public health concerns among youth. This study tests various pathways linking exposure to community violence and sexual behaviors among African American adolescents. Using a sample of 563 (61 % females) African American youth attending high school we examined whether problematic psychological symptoms, low school engagement, and/or negative perceptions of peer norms about safer sex functioned as pathways linking exposure to community violence and sexual behaviors. Major findings indicated that, for boys, the relationship between exposure to community violence and sexual début and sexual risk behaviors were linked by aggression. In addition, the relationship between exposure to community violence and sexual risk behaviors were linked by negative perceptions of peer attitudes about safer sex. For girls, the relationship between exposure to community violence and sexual début was linked by aggression and negative perceptions of peer attitudes about safer sex. These findings provide support for pathways linking exposure to community violence to sexual behaviors.