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Sexual Risk Behavior among Youth: Modeling the Influence of Prosocial Activities and Socioeconomic Factors

Jesus Ramirez-Valles, Marc A. Zimmerman and Michael D. Newcomb
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 39, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 237-253
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2676315
Page Count: 17
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Sexual Risk Behavior among Youth: Modeling the Influence of Prosocial Activities and Socioeconomic Factors
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Abstract

Sexual activity among high-school-aged youths has steadily increased since the 1970s, emerging as a significant public health concern. Yet, patterns of youth sexual risk behavior are shaped by social class, race, and gender. Based on sociological theories of financial deprivation and collective socialization, we develop and test a model of the relationships among neighborhood poverty; family structure and social class position; parental involvement; prosocial activities; race; and gender as they predict youth sexual risk behavior. We employ structural equation modeling to test this model on a cross-sectional sample of 370 sexually active high-school students from a midwestern city; 57 percent (n = 209) are males and 86 percent are African American. We find that family structure indirectly predicts sexual risk behavior through neighborhood poverty, parental involvement, and prosocial activities. In addition, family class position indirectly predicts sexual risk behavior through neighborhood poverty and prosocial activities. We address implications for theory and health promotion.

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