Journal Articles

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Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health


CONTEXT: Youth in alternative high schools engage in risky sexual behavior at higher rates than do their peers in regular schools, placing themselves at an increased risk of sexually transmitted disease and unintended pregnancy. Family connectedness is associated with reduced adolescent sexual risk-taking, although this association has not been tested among alternative school youth.

METHODS: A sample of 976 urban, predominantly minority alternative high school students in Houston, Texas, were surveyed in 2000-2002. Survey data were analyzed using logistic regression to determine whether family connectedness is related to sexual risk-taking.

RESULTS: Overall, 68% of students reported ever having had sex. Of sexually experienced students, 74% reported having had sex in the past three months and 29% reported ever having been involved in a pregnancy. The higher students scored on a scale of perceived family connectedness, the less likely they were to report ever having had sex, recently having had unprotected sex and having been involved in a pregnancy (odds ratio, 0.97 per unit increase for each outcome). Among females, higher perceived family connectedness was associated with reduced odds of ever having had sex or having initiated sex prior to age 13 (0.96 for each); males who perceived higher family connectedness had reduced odds of having been involved in a pregnancy (0.93).

CONCLUSIONS: Family connectedness may be a protective factor related to sexual risk-taking, even among high-risk youth. Including activities that acknowledge the influence of family relationships and facilitate positive parent-child relationships may increase the efficacy of programs for reducing sexual risk-taking among alternative school youth.


Adolescent, Adolescent Behavior, Adult, Family Relations, Female, Humans, Intergenerational Relations, Interpersonal Relations, Male, Odds Ratio, Parent-Child Relations, Pregnancy, Pregnancy in Adolescence, Psychology, Adolescent, Risk Factors, Risk-Taking, School Health Services, Schools, Sex Factors, Sexual Behavior, Students, Surveys and Questionnaires, Texas, Urban Population

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