Optimizing Assessment of Risk and Protection for Diverse Adolescent Outcomes: Do Risk and Protective Factors for Delinquency and Substance Use Also Predict Risky Sexual Behavior?

  • Christopher M. FlemingEmail author
  • Nicole Eisenberg
  • Richard F. Catalano
  • Rick Kosterman
  • Christopher Cambron
  • J. David Hawkins
  • Tim Hobbs
  • Ilene Berman
  • Tammi Fleming
  • Jessie Watrous


Assessments of youth risk and protective factors (RPFs) for substance use, delinquency, and violence have been used by communities to identify priorities and target them with prevention interventions. These same RPFs may also predict other youth problems. This study examined the strength and consistency of relationships of 41 ecological RPFs that predict antisocial behavior and substance use with sexual behavior outcomes in a sample of 2150 urban youth in 10th and 12th grade. After adjusting for controls, findings identify significant associations among the majority of community, school, family, peer, and individual risk factors, and family, peer, and individual protective factors, with sexual behavior outcomes, specifying unique associations among multiple factors with risky sex relative to both safe sex and not being sexually active. Prevention programming that targets common predictors for multiple problems may address a broad array of outcomes, including sexual health risk behaviors.


Risk factors Protective factors High-risk sexual behavior Adolescents 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Funding Information

This work was supported by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation (award number GA-2018-B0289 209.0428).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Survey administration procedures and study protocols were approved by the University of Washington Institutional Review Board and the local public school district.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher M. Fleming
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicole Eisenberg
    • 2
  • Richard F. Catalano
    • 2
  • Rick Kosterman
    • 2
  • Christopher Cambron
    • 3
  • J. David Hawkins
    • 2
  • Tim Hobbs
    • 4
  • Ilene Berman
    • 5
  • Tammi Fleming
    • 5
  • Jessie Watrous
    • 6
  1. 1.Prevention Science InstituteUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Social Development Research Group, School of Social WorkUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Center for Health Outcomes and Population Equity, Huntsman Cancer InstituteUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  4. 4.Dartington Service Design LabDevonEngland
  5. 5.The Annie E. Casey FoundationBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.School of Social Work, The Institute for Innovation and ImplementationUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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