PURPOSE - To examine the relationship between specific youth assets and adolescents' engagement in risky sexual behaviors, as measured by an Aggregate Sexual Risk score, and to specifically explore which youth assets and demographic variables were predictive of youth engagement in risky sexual intercourse.
METHODS - A total of 2108 sexually active high school students attending public high schools in a southern state completed a self-report questionnaire that measured youth assets. Based upon responses to items measuring risk behaviors, an Aggregate Sexual Risk score was calculated for each student. Unconditional logistic regression and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationships between the assets and the Aggregate Risk Score. Four separate analyses (white females, white males, black females, and black males) were conducted.
RESULTS - In general, the patterns in all four groups indicated that students who had an Aggregate Risk Score of > or = 3 (high risk) possessed less of the measured youth assets. The assets that were most significantly associated with engagement in risky sexual behaviors included self peer values regarding risky behaviors, quantity of other adult support, and youths' empathetic relationships. Thus, students who reported not having these assets were significantly more likely to engage in the risky sexual behaviors.
CONCLUSIONS - Results underscore the relationship of specific youth assets to sexual risk behaviors. Health researcher and practitioners who work to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among teenagers need to understand and acknowledge these factors within this population so that the assets can be built or strengthened.