Working too much can be dangerous for teen's sexual health

August 25, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Allowing teens to work too many hours in the wrong environment can be dangerous for their sexual health by fostering conditions that lead them to older sex partners, a new study shows.

This is just one of the key findings in a University of Michigan study of youth on what predicts age of sex partners. Jose Bauermeister, one of the authors, says age difference of sex partners is important, because a larger age difference is associated with riskier and STDs, including HIV.

The study found that a youth's self esteem and alcohol use also play a role in the age difference between sex partners, says Bauermeister, an assistant research professor in the School of Public Health.

Bauermeister stresses the research shows that overall, teenagers who work part-time benefit in almost all areas over those who don't have jobs. However, those benefits come with caveats, he said.

Bauermeister's team followed youths in Flint, Mich. as they transitioned from adolescence to young adulthood (ages 14 thru 25), to see what factors predicted sex partner age difference. Many factors can lead to age differences in sex partners, with girls usually dating older than boys and young men, the study found.

Working too many hours in an adult atmosphere without adequate supervision can lead to exposure to adults and eventually with older partners, especially for young girls, Bauermeister said. Age and number of work hours matter in adolescents, but any negative impact isn't apparent after age 18 or 19, the study found.

"It's OK to let kids work," Bauermeister said. "We want to make sure they are spending time in an environment where it's safe to work. Parents must ask the right questions and make sure it's a safe place for their children."

High self esteem and low use of alcohol offset the negative effects of working too many hours, he said. Those factors also protect youths overall from engaging in riskier sexual behavior.

The study also found that girls tend to date older from age 14 on, as do high school dropouts and who use alcohol. Boys at age 14 date their own age until they reach age 18, when they start dating younger women, Bauermeister said.

Sex education programs and other efforts to reduce young sex partners' age differences should aim to enhance self-acceptance and academic achievement and decrease alcohol use, the study said.

The study, called "What predicts sex partners' differences among African American youth? A longitudinal study from adolescence to young adulthood," appears online.

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has been working to promote health and prevent disease since 1941, and is consistently ranked among the top five public health schools in the nation. Whether making new discoveries in the lab or researching and educating in the field, our faculty, students, and alumni are deployed around the globe to promote and protect our health.

Provided by University of Michigan (news : web)

Explore further: Early sex may lead teens to delinquency, study shows

Related Stories

Sex, drugs and dating make teens feel older

June 18, 2007

A Canadian study has confirmed what parents have long suspected: dating, sexual activity and substance use seem to make teens feel older than they really are. And, as adolescents get older, the gap between their chronological ...

TV: Not the only channel to early sex

November 24, 2008

Watching plenty of television combined with low self-esteem, poor relationships with parents, and low academic achievement are some of the factors that may add up to young people having sex before the age of 15. Alternatively, ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.