This study examined interdependent trajectories of sexual risk, substance use, and conduct problems among 12- to 18-year-old African American youths who were followed annually as part of the Mobile Youth Study. We used growth mixture modeling to model the development of these three outcomes in the 1,406 participants who met the inclusion criteria. Results indicate that there were four distinct classes: normative, low risk (74.3% of sample); increasing high-risk takers (11.9%); adolescent-limited conduct problems and drug risk with high risky sex (8.0%); and early experimenters (5.8%) The higher risk classes had higher rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections diagnoses than the normative sample at each of the ages we examined. Differing somewhat from our hypothesis, all of the nonnormative classes exhibited high sexual risk behavior. Although prevention efforts should be focused on addressing all three risk behaviors, the high rate of risky sexual behavior in the 25% of the sample that fall into the three nonnormative classes underscores an urgent need for improved sex education, including teen pregnancy and HIV/sexually transmitted infections prevention, in this community.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health