Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 40, Issue 8, pp 945–957 | Cite as

Pathways to Sexual Risk Taking Among Female Adolescent Detainees

  • Vera Lopez
  • Albert Kopak
  • Alyssa Robillard
  • Mary Rogers Gillmore
  • Rhonda C. Holliday
  • Ronald L. Braithwaite
Empirical Research


Sexual risk taking among female delinquents represents a significant public health problem. Research is needed to understand the pathways leading to sexual risk taking among this population. This study sought to address this issue by identifying and testing two pathways from child maltreatment to non-condom use among 329 White and 484 African American female adolescent detainees: a relational pathway and a substance use coping pathway. The relational pathway indicated that child maltreatment would be related to non-condom use via depressive self-concept and condom use self-efficacy. The substance use coping pathway suggested that depressive self-concept and alcohol-based expectancies for sexual enhancement would mediate the relationship between child maltreatment and non-condom use. As hypothesized, the relational pathway variables were associated with one another in the expected directions; however, evidence of mediation was not found. Support for mediation was found for the substance use coping pathway. Exploratory across group comparison analysis indicated that the relational pathway was significant for White girls whereas the substance use coping pathway was significant for African American girls. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.


Sexual risk taking Adolescent females Incarcerated female adolescents Female adolescent detainees Adolescent detainees, incarcerated adolescents Child maltreatment Child abuse Depression Self-esteem Condom use self-efficacy Expectancies Condom use 



The data for this study were collected with support from NIAAA, award [R01 AA 11767 (R. Braithwaite, P.I.)]. Data analysis and manuscript development were supported by funding from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NCMHD/NIH), award P20 MD002316-03 (F. Marsiglia, P.I.) on the project “Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Sexual Risk Behavior in Juvenile Female Offenders,” award #03 (A. Robillard, P.I). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NCMHD or the NIH.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vera Lopez
    • 1
  • Albert Kopak
    • 2
  • Alyssa Robillard
    • 3
  • Mary Rogers Gillmore
    • 4
  • Rhonda C. Holliday
    • 5
  • Ronald L. Braithwaite
    • 5
  1. 1.Justice & Social InquiryArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Criminology & Criminal JusticeWestern Carolina UniversityCullowheeUSA
  3. 3.African & African American StudiesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  4. 4.School of Social WorkArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  5. 5.Community Health and Preventive MedicineMorehouse School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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