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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. To broaden our understanding of romance and sexuality during adolescence in Latin American countries, we used a person-oriented approach latent class analysis to examine classes marked by different patterns of romantic and sexual behaviors in Mexican adolescents.
We found 5 classes: Inactive, 8.
Middle school adolescents in the Committed class high in romantic and sexual behaviors had the highest level of depressive symptoms. Girls in the Inactive class and boys in the Physical class had the lowest level of symptoms. Adolescents in the Committed class also reported less academic motivation and achievement, whereas adolescents in the Inactive class reported higher motivation. This study expands our knowledge of adolescent romantic and sexual development in Mexico. Romantic and sexual experiences are also linked, in that the majority of sexual behavior occurs within the context of relationships Collins et al.
Despite these similarities, research on these topics have largely developed separately. There is relatively little research that examines the two together and can disentangle the effects of sexual and romantic behaviors. In particular, there is little work on these topics in Latin American countries such as Mexico.
Examining these behaviors in Mexico, from a normative perspective, may help understand whether sexual behavioral patterns found in industrialized nations e. That is, we want to examine the extent to which patterns of sexual and romantic behaviors that are relatively normative among adolescents in the U. In this study, we used a person-oriented approach latent class analysis; LCA to examine multidimensional classes marked by different patterns of romantic and sexual behaviors in Mexican adolescents, and how these classes of behaviors were associated with their mental health and school performance.
These findings may help identify microsystems that shape the timing and prevalence of these experiences in similar ways across cultural contexts. The prevalence of both sexual and romantic behaviors increases with age. Nationally representative samples in the U. During early adolescence, romantic interactions often occur in mixed-gender group settings Connolly et al.
During middle adolescence, casual dating emerges and adolescents participate in both group dating and short-term romantic dy Seiffge-Krenke, Finally, during late adolescence, exclusive and stable romantic relationships become more prevalent than Mexico PA sex dating dating Friedlander et al.
We know very little about how romantic relationships develop among Mexican adolescents. As Mexican adolescents age, they are more likely to engage in sexual behaviors, with making out and vaginal sex being more prevalent than oral sex Campero et al. Both romantic and sexual behaviors are multidimensional and can encompass several different stages or behaviors. However, research in this area has often used a variable-oriented approach in which only single measures, such as whether an adolescent is in a relationship or is sexually active, are included, or in which multiple measures of different aspects have been considered separately.
Although this approach is useful in understanding effects of specific behaviors, it does not provide for a comprehensive understanding of romantic or sexual experiences, convey the heterogeneity of experiences, or disentangle the effects of different facets of behaviors.
Such an approach can, for example, differentiate between individuals who engage in sexual behavior outside of a relationship, in a more casual dating relationship, and in a relationship marked by high level of commitment. Although the use of person-oriented methods in research on adolescent romantic and sexual behavior is growing, it is still relatively limited.
However, these studies are limited in their information about romantic relationships. For example, although these studies included indicators of of sexual partners or whether sexual behavior occurred within or outside of a romantic relationship, they have no information about characteristics of the relationship, such as love or commitment Hipwell et al. A few studies have included both sexual and relationship behaviors. For example, one study of 7 th through 12 th grade adolescents examined classes of sexual and romantic behaviors that occurred in a relationship with a partner, and found 5 classes: Serious with Sex, Serious without Sex, Group Oriented, Physically Oriented, and Low Involvement Crissey, However, both of these studies focused on adolescents from the U.
Based on the Ecological Systems theory, researchers in the U. Thus, we examined the role of Latino values and religion as factors which may predict membership in classes of romantic and sexual behaviors. Familism is associated with later timing of sexual behaviors in Latino adolescents residing in Mexico and in the U. To our knowledge, no quantitative studies have examined associations between familism and romantic relationships.
However, qualitative research in the U. Thus, familism may be linked to lower levels of both romantic experiences and sexual behaviors. Religious affiliation may also affect sexual behaviors. Studies conducted in the U. Similarly, adolescents who are sexually active report more depressive symptoms than those who are not sexually active Hallfors et al.
Sexual behavior and romantic relationships are also associated with academic outcomes. Inner city 7 th and 8 th grade students who reported grades of C or lower were 1. Several studies in the U. One study using LCA suggests that individuals who were in a relationship but Mexico PA sex dating to have sex had higher grades than those in a relationship with sexual intercourse, and that those who engaged in private not public group dating relationships had lower grades Vasilenko et al.
However, to our knowledge no research has examined mental health and academic outcomes of romantic and sexual experiences among adolescents in Mexico. The current study uses a person-oriented method, LCA, and a sample of Mexican middle and high school students to A uncover classes of sexual and romantic experiences; B examine factors that predict class membership including age, gender, familism and religious affiliation; and C to examine how class membership is associated with depressive symptoms, anxiety, academic motivation and grades.
Because of the exploratory nature of the analyses and the lack of research on Mexican adolescents, we make no specific hypotheses. However, based on prior research on American adolescents, we would expect that classes marked by more intimate sexual and romantic behaviors may be associated with greater depressive symptoms and lower academic achievement, particularly for younger female adolescents. In addition, students in classes marked by low involvement in dating may experience more anxiety, particularly if they are older. Data was collected from 7 middle schools 4 private and 3 public and one high school in Puebla, one of the largest cities in Mexico.
Principals chose the students who participate in the study, based on convenience e. University IRB procedures were followed and a waiver of written parental consent obtained. School staff distributed forms to students to take home to parents, and separated students whose parents did not allow them to participate. Students were informed of their rights as participants, and those who assented completed the survey, which took about an hour and a half.
They received a piece of candy for participating. This sample can be generalized to the student population attending those schools. All measures were translated by a committee of two Ph. Then two Mexican middle school students and a Mexican female school psychologist read over the Spanish version of the measures to make sure grade level was adequate and items were easy to understand by a Spanish native speaker. Finally, we conducted a pilot data collection in a small private middle school in Mexico City. Participants were presented with a grid which listed sexual and romantic behaviors, and were asked to check whether they had engaged in each behavior during 4 th to 12 th grade.
We focus on four romantic relationship behaviors and four sexual behaviors. We assessed whether several factors were associated with class membership. Demographics include age and gender. Religion was assessed by first asking participants if they practiced a religion, and if yes, which religion it was.
Participants were asked how often they experienced different feelings in the past week. Analyses proceeded in three stages. Finally, we assessed how classes of romantic relationship behavior predict mental health outcomes and how these associations differ by Mexico PA sex dating and school level middle vs. We fit models with one through eight classes Table 1. Upon comparing the interpretability of the 4, 5, and 6 class models, we chose the five-class model, as it captured a range of different patterns of relationship behaviors, and all classes were of sufficient size for further analyses by subgroup Table 2.
In addition, the bootstrap likelihood ratio test suggested that the 5-class model was a ificantly better fit than the 4-class model. To determine whether the latent class model differed by gender and school level, we compared two different models: one with item response probabilities constrained to be equal across gender and age groups, and the other with the parameters estimated freely within each group.
The constrained model had lower scores than the unconstrained model on both the AIC and BIC criteria, suggesting that modeling the groups together produces a better-fitting model than estimating classes separately by group. Thus, we use the same latent class model for all groups. The first class, Inactive, 8. The most common class, Early Stage, had high probabilities of dating, love, exclusivity and early physical behaviors, but were unlikely to have discussed engagement or marriage or have engaged in other sexual behaviors.
The Waiting class They also were equally likely to have or have not discussed engagement or marriage. A relatively small class 8. Finally, the committed class Note : Item-response probabilities indicate estimate percentage of individuals in a given class reported engaging in the behavior. Probabilities greater than. Next, we examined how covariates predicted class membership Table 3. The largest class, Early Stage was used as the reference group. The inactive class did not differ from the Early Stage classes on any covariates.
Individuals who were older were more likely to be in the Waiting compared to Early Stage class. The most ificant differences with the Early Stage class were found for the Physical class; those in the Physical class were more likely to be male, older, non-religious, and have lower familism. Being older and having lower familism were also associated with being in the Committed compared to early stage class.
Finally, we examined how class membership was associated with mental health and academic outcomes. We introduced a four-level grouping variable middle school male, middle school female, high school male, high school female to examine differences by gender and school type.
We summarize the findings across these analyses by latent class. Being in the inactive class, characterized by low probabilities of involvement on all indicators, was associated with lower than average depressive symptoms for all female adolescents and middle school male adolescents, but was associated with higher than average depressive symptoms for high school male adolescents.
Male participants in Mexico PA sex dating inactive class had levels of anxiety near the mean, whereas female middle school students had lower levels of anxiety, but female high school students had the highest level of anxiety for any class.
Academic motivation and grades were close to the mean levels for most students in the inactive class, but were higher than average among female high school students. Estimated level of depressive symptoms for adolescents by romantic and sexual behavior latent class, by gender and school type middle v. Dotted lines indicate overall mean depressive symptoms. Estimated level of anxiety symptoms for adolescents by romantic and sexual behavior latent class, by gender and school type middle v.
Dotted lines Mexico PA sex dating overall mean anxiety symptoms. Estimated level of academic motivation for adolescents by romantic and sexual behavior latent class, by gender and school type middle v. Dotted lines indicate overall mean academic motivation scores. Estimated grades for adolescents by romantic and sexual behavior latent class, by gender and school type middle v. Dotted lines indicate overall mean grades.
All adolescents in the Early Stage class, characterized by dating, love, and kissing or hand-holding, had lower than average depressive symptoms. Participants in this class had near mean scores on anxiety, academic achievement, and grades. Individuals in the Waiting class, characterized by love, exclusivity, and touching but not oral or vaginal sex, had close to mean levels of depressive symptoms, except for female adolescents in middle school, who had higher levels of symptoms.
Participants in this class had near mean scores on anxiety and academic achievement, although females had slightly lower grades.Mexico PA sex dating
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Patterns of Relationship and Sexual Behaviors in Mexican Adolescents and Associations with Well-being: A Latent Class Approach