Adolescents’ attitudes about sex and childbearing, along with their reproductive knowledge, may influence their sexual behaviors well into adulthood. However, gendered meanings about sex and childbearing suggest adolescent attitudes could affect adult behaviors differently. We use Waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to test whether adolescent reproductive attitudes and knowledge, as well as attitudes toward sex, influence adult sexual partnerships, analyzing lifetime measures (number of partners and number of ‘one night stands’) and partnerships in the past year (number of partners and concurrent partners). Teens’ attitudes and knowledge about sex and reproduction do predict adult sexual behaviors, though more strongly for lifetime measures. However, there are gender differences in attitudes and knowledge and in the association of adolescent attitudes and knowledge with adult behaviors. The findings have implications for overall content in sex ed programs as well as gender-specific programming.
Presented in Session 2. Children & Youth