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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Sexually Active Mexican Adolescent: A Preliminary Report


Adolescent fertility has become identified as a major social problem in the United States; however, little empirical data are available regarding the critical social variables which influence adolescent sexual behavior. While adolescents learn about sexuality from many sources, two major sources that influence adolescent attitudes toward sexual behavior are from persons who form their internal support network--family and peers. The adolescent's family and peers are instrumental in forming the adolescent's knowledge base about reproduc- tion, contraceptive use, and other sexual behavioral variables. The importance and role of these influences can differ when viewed in another cultural context. To date, little is known about differences in sexual behavior among culturally diverse adolescent groups nor what impact acculturation to American values may have in influencing the development of attitudes toward sexual behavior. A community based comparative survey of about 1,000 adolescent females from Los Angeles County was undertaken to examine the similari- ties and differences of sexual behavior and its consequences. The following brief discussion outlines preliminary descriptive find- ings on differences between these sexually active and nonsexually active Mexican-American and Anglo-American adolescents, ages 13 to 19.

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