The Effect of Parental Incarceration Prior to Age 16 on Sexual Health and Characteristics of First Sexual Experience

Erin McCauley , Cornell University

Sexual health behaviors shape long term health and wellbeing. Despite evidence that parental incarceration is associated with health, few studies have explored the association between parental incarceration and sexual health specifically. Using linear probability models and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 I examine the association between parental incarceration and sexual health behaviors and characteristics of first sexual experience. I find that parental incarceration prior to age 16 is associated with increased probabilities of reporting sex with a stranger (15%, p<0.001), sex with an intravenous drug user (2%, p<0.05), and becoming pregnant (5%, p<0.05), and decreased condom use (9%, p<0.01). Parental incarceration is also associated with younger age of first sexual experience, increased probability of not discussing birth control, and decreased probabilities of any birth control usage. Children of incarcerated parents experience sexual health risks and need increased access to reproductive health care and sexual health information.

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 Presented in Session 43. Consequences of Adversity in Childhood and Young Adulthood