Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 10, pp 1742–1751 | Cite as

Peer Rejection, Affiliation with Deviant Peers, Delinquency, and Risky Sexual Behavior

  • Jennifer E. Lansford
  • Kenneth A. Dodge
  • Reid Griffith Fontaine
  • John E. Bates
  • Gregory S. Pettit
Empirical Research


Risky sexual behavior poses significant health risks by increasing sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. Previous research has documented many factors related to risky sexual behavior. This study adds to the literature by proposing a prospective, developmental model of peer factors related to risky sexual behavior. Developmental pathways to risky sexual behavior were examined in a sample of 517 individuals (51 % female; 82 % European American, 16 % African American, 2 % other) followed from age 5–27. Structural equation models examined direct and indirect effects of peer rejection (assessed via peer nominations at ages 5, 6, 7, and 8), affiliation with deviant peers (assessed via self-report at ages 11 and 12), and delinquency (assessed via maternal report at ages 10 and 16) on risky sexual behavior (assessed via self-report at age 27). More peer rejection during childhood, affiliation with deviant peers during pre- adolescence, and delinquency in childhood and adolescence predicted more risky sexual behavior through age 27, although delinquency at age 16 was the only risk factor that had a significant direct effect on risky sexual behavior through age 27 above and beyond the other risk factors. Peer rejection was related to subsequent risk factors for girls but not boys. Peer risk factors as early as age 5 shape developmental pathways through childhood and adolescence and have implications for risky sexual behavior into adulthood.


Delinquency Deviant peers Peer rejection Risky sexual behavior 



The Child Development Project has been funded by grants MH56961, MH57024, and MH57095 from the National Institute of Mental Health, HD30572 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and DA016903 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Kenneth A. Dodge is supported by Senior Scientist award 2K05 DA015226 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. We are grateful to the individuals who have participated in this research.

Author contributions

JEL conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and drafted the manuscript; KAD, RGF, JEB, and GSP participated in the design and coordination of the study and provided constructive feedback on drafts of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


  1. Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Integrative guide for the 1991 CBCL 14-18, YSR, and TRF profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  2. Agha, S., & Van Rossem, R. (2004). Impact of a school-based peer sexual health intervention on normative beliefs, risk perceptions, and sexual behavior of Zambian adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 34, 441–452. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2003.07.016.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bayer, P. J., Pintoff, R., & Pozen, D. (2004). Building criminal capital behind bars: Peer effects in juvenile corrections. Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 864. SSRN:
  4. Bentler, P. M. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238–246. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.238.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Billy, J. O. G., & Udry, J. R. (1985). The influence of male and female best friends on adolescent sexual behavior. Adolescence, 20, 21–32.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Boivin, M., Hymel, S., & Bukowski, W. M. (1995). The roles of social withdrawal, peer rejection, and victimization by peers in predicting loneliness and depressed mood in childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 765–785. doi: 10.1017/S0954579400006830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bollen, K. A. (1990). Overall fit in covariance structure models: Two types of sample size effects. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 256–259. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brendgen, M., Wanner, B., & Vitaro, F. (2007). Peer and teacher effects on the early onset of sexual intercourse. American Journal of Public Health, 97, 2070–2075. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.101287.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Brewer, D., Potterat, J., Garrett, S., Muth, S., Roberts, J., Kasprzyk, D., et al. (2000). Prostitution and the sex discrepancy in reported number of sexual partners. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97, 12385–12388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cavanagh, S. E. (2004). The sexual debut of girls in early adolescence: The intersection of race, pubertal timing, and friendship group characteristics. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 14, 285–312. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2004.00076.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Fact sheets on STDs.
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Sexually transmitted disease surveillance 2010. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  13. Cheung, G. W., & Rensvold, R. B. (2002). Evaluating goodness-of-fit indexes for testing measurement invariance. Structural Equation Modeling, 9, 233–255. doi: 10.1207/S15328007SEM0902_5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coie, J. D., Dodge, K. A., & Coppotelli, H. A. (1982). Dimensions and types of social status: A cross-age perspective. Developmental Psychology, 18, 557–569. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.18.4.557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Connolly, J., Craig, W., Goldberg, A., & Pepler, D. J. (2004). Mixed-gender groups, dating, and romantic relationships in early adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 14, 185–207. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2004.01402003.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Connolly, J., Furman, W., & Konarski, R. (2000). The role of peers in the emergence of heterosexual romantic relationships in adolescence. Child Development, 71, 1395–1408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Crockett, L. J., Raffaelli, M., & Shen, Y.-L. (2006). Linking self-regulation and risk proneness to risky sexual behavior: Pathways through peer pressure and early substance use. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16, 503–525. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2006.00505.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dinkelman, T., & Lam, D. (2009). A model for understanding gender discrepancies in sexual behavior reports. Report 09-669. Population Studies Center, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  19. Dishion, T. J., Capaldi, D., Spracklen, K. M., & Li, F. (1995). Peer ecology of male adolescent drug use. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 803–824. doi: 10.1017/S0954579400006854.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dishion, T. J., Ha, T., & Véronneau, M.-H. (2012). An ecological analysis of the effects of deviant peer clustering on sexual promiscuity, problem behavior, and childbearing from early adolescence to adulthood: An enhancement of the life history framework. Development and Psychopathology, 48, 703–717. doi: 10.1037/a0027304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dishion, T. J., Patterson, G. R., Stoolmiller, M., & Skinner, M. L. (1991). Family, school, and behavioral antecedents to early adolescent involvement with antisocial peers. Developmental Psychology, 27, 172–180. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.27.1.172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (1990). Mechanisms in the cycle of violence. Science, 250, 1678–1683. doi: 10.1126/science.2270481.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fergusson, D. M., & Horwood, L. J. (1999). Prospective childhood predictors of deviant peer affiliations in adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 581–592. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00475.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. French, D. C., & Dishion, T. (2003). Predictors of early initiation of sexual intercourse among high-risk adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 23, 295–315. doi: 10.1177/0272431603254171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Furman, W., & Shaffer, L. (2003). The role of romantic relationships in adolescent development. In P. Florsheim (Ed.), Adolescent romantic relations and sexual behavior: Theory, research, and practical implications (pp. 3–22). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  26. Grunbaum, J. A., Kann, L., Kinchen, S., Ross, J., Hawkins, J., & Lowry, R., et al. (2004). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2003. In Surveillance Summaries, May 21, 2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 53 (No. SS-2).Google Scholar
  27. Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55. doi: 10.1080/10705519909540118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jessor, R., Donovan, J. E., & Costa, F. M. (1991). Beyond adolescence: Problem behavior and young adult development. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Kline, R. B. (1998). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  30. Koo, H. P., Rose, A., Bhaskar, B., & Walker, L. R. (2011). Relationships of pubertal development among early adolescents to sexual and nonsexual risk behaviors and caregivers’ parenting behaviors. Journal of Early Adolescence, 31, 1–26. doi: 10.1177/0272431611409746.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. Kotchick, B. A., Shaffer, A., Forehand, R., & Miller, K. S. (2001). Adolescent sexual risk behavior: A multi-system perspective. Clinical Psychology Review, 21, 493–519. doi: 10.1016/S0272-7358(99)00070-7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lansford, J. E., Yu, T., Erath, S., Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & Dodge, K. A. (2010). Developmental precursors of number of sexual partners from age 16 to 22. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 20, 651–677. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00654.x.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. MacKinnon, D. P. (2008). Introduction to statistical mediation analysis. New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  34. Miller, B. C., Benson, B., & Galbraith, K. A. (2001). Family relationships and adolescent pregnancy risk: A research synthesis. Developmental Review, 21, 1–38. doi: 10.1006/drev.2000.0513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.100.4.674.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mosher, W. D., Jones, J., & Abma, J. C. (2012). Intended and unintended births in the United States: 1982–2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Health Statistics Reports, 55.Google Scholar
  37. Parkes, A., Waylen, A., Sayal, K., Heron, J., Henderson, M., Wight, D., et al. (2014). Which behavioral, emotional and school problems in middle-childhood predict early sexual behavior? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43, 507–527. doi: 10.1007/s10964-013-9973-x.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Prinstein, M. J., Boergers, J., & Spirito, A. (2001). Adolescents’ and their friends’ health-risk behavior: Factors that alter or add to peer influence. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 26, 287–298. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/26.5.287.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Prinstein, M. J., Meade, C. S., & Cohen, G. L. (2003). Adolescent oral sex, peer popularity, and perceptions of best friends’ sexual behavior. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 28, 243–249. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsg012.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rodkin, P. C., Farmer, T. W., Pearl, R., & Van Acker, R. (2000). Heterogeneity of popular boys: Antisocial and prosocial configurations. Developmental Psychology, 36, 14–24. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.36.1.14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schafer, J. L., & Graham, J. W. (2002). Missing data: Our view of the state of the art. Psychological Methods, 7, 147–177. doi: 10.1037//1082-989X.7.2.147.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schroeder, C. M., & Prentice, D. A. (1998). Exposing pluralistic ignorance to reduce alcohol use among college students. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28, 2150–2180. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1998.tb01365.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Smith, E. A., Udry, J. R., & Morris, N. M. (1985). Pubertal development and friends: A biosocial explanation of adolescent sexual behavior. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 26, 183–192. doi: 10.2307/2136751.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Steiger, J. H. (1990). Structural model evaluation and modification: An interval estimation approach. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 25, 173–180. doi: 10.1207/s15327906mbr2502_4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Taylor-Seehafer, M., & Rew, L. (2000). Risky sexual behavior among adolescent women. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 5, 15–25. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6155.2000.tb00082.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. (2010). Births: Preliminary data for 2009. National Vital Statistics Reports, 59.Google Scholar
  47. Walter, H. J., Vaughan, R. D., Gladis, M. M., Ragin, D. F., Kasen, S., & Cohall, A. T. (1992). Factors associated with AIDS risk behaviors among high school students in an AIDS epicenter. American Journal of Public Health, 82, 528–532. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.82.4.528.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. Wargo Aikins, J., & Litwack, S. (2011). The social competence of popular youth. In A. H. N. Cillessen, D. Schwartz, & L. Mayeux (Eds.), Peer popularity (pp. 140–164). New York: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
  49. Weinstock, H., Berman, S., & Cates, W., Jr. (2004). Sexually transmitted diseases among American youth: Incidence and prevalence estimates, 2000. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 36, 6–10.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wight, D., Williamson, L., & Henderson, M. (2006). Parental influences on young people’s sexual behaviour: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 473–494. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2005.08.007.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. World Health Organization. (2005). World health report 2005: Make every mother and child count.
  52. World Health Organization. (2013). Sexually transmitted infections.
  53. Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J., Siebenbruner, J., & Collins, W. A. (2004). A prospective study of intraindividual and peer influences on adolescents’ heterosexual romantic and sexual behavior. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 33, 381–394. doi: 10.1023/B:ASEB.0000028891.16654.2c.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer E. Lansford
    • 1
  • Kenneth A. Dodge
    • 1
  • Reid Griffith Fontaine
    • 1
  • John E. Bates
    • 2
  • Gregory S. Pettit
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Child and Family PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.Auburn UniversityAuburnUSA

Personalised recommendations