Protective and Risk Factors Associated with Adolescent Boys’ Early Sexual Debut and Risky Sexual Behaviors

  • Brenda J. Lohman
  • Amanda Billings
Empirical Research


Protective and risk factors associated with rates of early sexual debut and risky sexual behaviors for a sample of low-income adolescent boys were examined using bioecological theory framed by a resiliency perspective. Protective processes examined include a close mother–son and father–son relationship, parental monitoring and family routines, as well as the adolescent boy’s academic achievement, expectations, and school recognition. The risk factors assessed were delinquent behaviors, if the adolescent was born to a teenage mother, family structure, monthly family income, risky neighborhood environments, family of origin welfare receipt, and maternal education. Waves one (1999) and two (2001) of Welfare, Children, and Families: A Three-City Study were used (N = 528; Wave 1 ages 10–14 years). Associations between early sexual debut and risky sexual behaviors with individual, family, school, and neighborhood protective and risk factors were addressed through a series of d-probit and Ordinary Least Squares multiple regression techniques. When protective and risk factors were addressed independently, academic achievement and parental monitoring protected adolescent boys from early sexual debut and risky sexual behaviors while drug and alcohol use and school problems placed them at risk for these behaviors. However, when the model is assessed together, early parental monitoring and academic achievement were shown to protect boys’ early sexual debut and risky sexual behaviors by reducing their delinquent behaviors, specifically early drug and alcohol use and school problems.


Adolescent males Low-income Minority Sexual activity Risky sexual behaviors 



We gratefully acknowledge the support of the following organizations. Government agencies: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (RO1 HD36093 “Welfare Reform and the Well-Being of Children”), Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Children and Families, Social Security Administration, and National Institute of Mental Health. Foundations: The Boston Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Searle Fund for Policy Research, and The Woods Fund of Chicago. A special thank you is extended to our research firm, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) as well as to the children and caregivers who graciously participated in the Three-City Study and gave us access to their lives.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social and Behavioral ResearchIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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