Cuffee, J. J.; Hallfors,D.D.
; and Waller, M.W. Journal of Adolescent Health
, vol. 41, pgs. 19-26 (2007)PURPOSE: Delay of sexual debut is an important strategy in reducing the risk of negative adolescent health outcomes. Race and gender are known to be related to sexual behavior and outcomes, but little is known about how these characteristics affect sexual attitudes. This article examines differences in coital and pregnancy attitudes by gender and race, the influence of attitudes on transition to first coitus for each subgroup, and implications for prevention.
METHODS: Data are from Waves I and II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, limited to Non-Hispanic White and African American adolescents (n = 6652). We factor analyzed attitude items, and examined effects of race, gender, and their interaction, controlling for sexual debut at Wave I. We regressed sexual debut longitudinally by attitudes for virgins (n = 3281) separately for each subgroup, controlling for covariates.
RESULTS: Compared with boys, girls perceived less positive benefits from sex and more shame and guilt with sex, but had fewer negative perceptions about pregnancy. Compared with White boys, African American boys perceived less shame and guilt about sex; girls did not differ by race. Higher perceived benefits of sex increased the likelihood of sexual debut among African American girls. Perceived shame and guilt lowered the likelihood for White boys and girls.
CONCLUSIONS: Reinforcing protective attitudes through gender and race-specific programs may delay sexual intercourse, but more research is needed. More research is also needed to determine whether there is an optimal coital age after which negative health outcomes are attenuated, and whether this differs by gender and race.