The Role of Disability on Risky Sexual Behaviors among American Teenagers

Carrie L. Alexandrowicz, Brown University
Afra R. Chowdhury, Brown University

Risky sexual activity among adolescents is a considerable health risk which increases both the likelihood of unplanned pregnancy and the contraction of sexually transmitted disease. Prior research on sexual activity emphasizes the importance of demographic and socioeconomic indictors on risk behaviors for all adolescents. However, little is known about the factors contributing to the increased likelihood of engaging in risky sex behaviors for teenagers with disabilities. This study explores the mechanisms which influence youth with special health care needs to engage in sexual behaviors that increase adolescent health risk. We use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 to investigate the effect of disability status on the likelihood of participating in sexual intercourse with strangers or drug users, the decision not to use condoms at first sex, and the tendency for numerous sexual partners. We also examine the extent to which disability affect is mediated by family and socioeconomic status.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course