Young people’s perceptions of advice about sexual risk taking

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Sexual and reproductive health indicators for young people in the USA have improved in recent decades, but teenage pregnancies remain high, and large differences between Whites and non-Whites persist in teenage births, abortions, and the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections. Prior research shows that young people are receptive to communication about sex from parents and friends, but peers have been found to be more influential on sexual risk taking. In this study of 617 young people aged 13–20 years in high-risk neighbourhoods for teenage pregnancy in New Jersey, we asked whether sexually inexperienced young people differed from sexually experienced young people in their level of receptivity to the recommendations from their parents, friends, and others about whether to have sex before marriage and whether to use a condom if sexually active. The results showed that the sexually inexperienced were more receptive to messages from figures of authority in their life than those sexually experienced. We also found that stronger message intensity from parents, friends, and others to delay sex until marriage and to use a condom if sexually active was associated with lower sexual intentions in the next six months and the use of a condom if sexually active in the last three months.

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Sex Education

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