Early sexual activity among adolescents. In small towns and rural areas: Race and gender patterns

C. S. Alexander, M. E. Ensminger, Y. J. Kim, B. J. Smith, K. E. Johnson, L. J. Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


A 1987 survey fo 758 eighth-grade students from three rural counties in Maryland revealed that 61 percent of males and 47 percent of females have engaged in sexual intercourse, and that 77 percent of black students and 40 percent of whites have ever had intercourse. A logistic regression analyzing the effects of race and gender shows that the odds that young black teenagers would have had intercourse are over five times those for whites, and that the odds for males are about twice those for females. The introduction of developmental, individual, academic and behavioral factors into the regression model has little effect on these odds ratios. Separate logistic analyses of four subgroups-white males, white females, black males and black females-reveal no consistent associations between sexual activity and the factors examined. For example, such types of problem behavior as cigarette smoking and use of alcohol or certain other drugs are associated with the likelihood of sexual activity, but the specific type of behavior involved differs by subgroup: Cigarette smoking is related to an increased likelihood of sexual activity just among white females, while alcohol consumption is associated with sexual experience among black females and white males only. Use of drugs other than marijuana or alcohol is linked to a 5-9 times greater risk of sexual activity among whites, but not to any significantly increased risk among blacks, whereas living in a town (rather than in the country) is significantly associated with the likelihood of sexual intercourse among both white and black males, but not among females of either race. Frequent cruising (driving around with no particular) has an important impact on the likelihood of intercourse among all whites and among black males, but not among black females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-266
Number of pages6
JournalFamily Planning Perspectives
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Early sexual activity among adolescents. In small towns and rural areas: Race and gender patterns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this