Sexual Health :: Pattern found in childhood self-regulation, sex and adolescent drug use

Although several studies have documented the association between poor self-regulation and risky sexual behavior in adolescence, little attention has been paid to the role of self-regulation in childhood and its implications for adolescent development. A new study, published in Journal of Research on Adolescence, investigates this potential link, suggesting that taking sexual risks during adolescence may be the culmination of a developmental pathway and may also lead to early involvement in substance use.

The study found that 8-9 year-olds with poor self-regulation skills were more likely to use drugs at age 12-13, and were more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior four years later. The study also found that negative peer pressure (encouragement to engage in risky behavior) also contributed to later sexual behavior.

The potential value of the study is significant. ?Enhancing self-regulation could reduce both early substance use and risky sexual behavior,? suggests lead author Lisa J. Crockett, noting that ?peer pressure and experimentation with substances may be useful targets for intervention in early adolescence.?


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