Author ORCID Identifier

Dexter R. Voisin

Document Type


Publication Date



This research examined whether negative peer influences (i.e., norms favoring risky sex and drug use and gang involvement) mediated the relationship between school engagement (i.e., grade point averages [GPAs] obtained from school records and student-teacher connectedness) and sexual behaviors (i.e., sexual début, sex without condoms, group sex, and sex while using drugs) among African American high school adolescents, and whether these relationships varied by gender. Five hundred sixty-three high school adolescents (ages 13 to 19) completed self-administered questionnaires that assessed school engagement markers, peer influences, sexual début, and risky sex. Major findings for boys indicate that GPA was negatively associated with both sexual début and risky sex. Additionally, the relationship between student-teacher connectedness and risky sex was mediated by gang involvement. For girls, higher GPAs were associated with fewer norms favoring risky sex and drug use and such norms were associated with sexual début. Moreover, the relationships between GPA, sexual début and risky sex was mediated by risky peer norms. Intervention programs to delay sexual début and reduce risky sex among youths should attend to the gendered ways through which such behaviors occur.


African American adolescents, peer influences, school engagement, sexual behaviors

Publication Title

Children and Youth Services Review





First Page


Last Page



© 2009 Elsevier Ltd.


This is a peer reviewed Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in Children and Youth Services Review, available at: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.06.016



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.