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Early Sexual Initiation and Mental Health

Title: Early Sexual Initiation and Mental Health: A Fleeting Association or Enduring Change?.
Name(s): Wesche, Rose, author
Kreager, Derek A, author
Lefkowitz, Eva S, author
Siennick, Sonja E, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Journal Article
Date Issued: 2017-09-01
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The present research examined how the within-person association between sexual initiation and internalizing symptoms decays over time, using data with annual measurement occasions across adolescence (N = 1,789) and statistical models of within-person change. Sexual initiation was associated with increased levels of internalizing symptoms for early-initiating girls (ninth grade, approximately age 15), but not for on-time-initiating girls or for boys. The association between girls' early sexual initiation and internalizing symptoms declined precipitously over time. Indeed, 1 year after sexual debut, early-initiating girls were similar to on-time or noninitiating girls on internalizing symptoms, suggesting early sexual initiation does not produce lasting detriments to girls' mental health. Findings inform how researchers perceive sexual initiation, both as a developmental milestone and as a prevention target.
Identifier: FSU_pmch_28776829 (IID), 10.1111/jora.12303 (DOI), PMC5546176 (PMCID), 28776829 (RID), 28776829 (EID)
Grant Number: R01 DA013709, R01 DA018225, P50 DA010075, P50 DA039838, T32 DA017629
Publication Note: This NIH-funded author manuscript originally appeared in PubMed Central at
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU
Is Part Of: Journal of research on adolescence : the official journal of the Society for Research on Adolescence.
Issue: iss. 3, vol. 27

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Wesche, R., Kreager, D. A., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Siennick, S. E. (2017). Early Sexual Initiation and Mental Health: A Fleeting Association or Enduring Change? Journal Of Research On Adolescence : The Official Journal Of The Society For Research On Adolescence. Retrieved from