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How Do Peers and Family Influence the Life of the Youth

Updated on September 29, 2010

This article underscores the pivotal role played by peers and family influences in explaining the change in sexual-risk-taking among the youth. Sexual risk taking behaviors are behaviors like multiple sex partners, unprotected sex and early sex. It has been said that the youth today are into sexual risks behavior and is an increasing trend comparing to a decade ago. Data all over the world suggests that the risks is an increasing trend. The youth are into early sex, unprotected sex and do have multiple partners. This is worrisome because of early pregnancy and other risks to the youth. Usually they also stop going to school if they get pregnant.

Peer influences in the life of the youth

In terms of the influence of friends, it is posited that young people may succumb to peer pressure to conform to sexual standards. However, peer pressure may not totally explain the strong similarities between sexual behaviors of peers but as some social researchers may argue it may occur via acquisition of friends who have similar sexual behavior.

Family influences in the life of the youth

The influence of the family also emerged as a significant factor in the increase of sexual risk taking behaviors. While the family, specifically, the parents, play a central role in the adolescent’s life especially by moderating the potential negative influence of peers, they are also at the core of problems of adolescents who have their own anxieties and conflicts, lack of knowledge and frequent embarrassment over certain topics of discussion, physical absence, psychological distance, and strong needs for control. The absence of parental supervision and limited family dynamics in terms of discussion about sex predispose the young to sexual risk behaviors.

One area that warrants further exploration is the familial discussion of sex. Other information such as the persons involved, the content of the discussion, the manner in which the topic is being discussed, the frequency of discussion are needed in order to fully understand the precise mechanism by which family discussion of sexual matters influence youth sexual risk taking.

Need for future researches about other risks factors such as smoking, drinking and drug use among the youth.

There is a need for future researches which will examine the changes in other adolescent risk behaviors such as smoking, drinking and drug use. It would be instructive and programatically-relevant to determine whether the same processes that impinge on youth sexual risk-taking also operate on these nonsexual risk behaviors.

There is a need for systematic and regular updating of data on adolescent sexuality to keep track of the changes in risk behavior over time for a fuller understanding of shifts in risk behaviors.

As a final note, given the considerable proportion of young people who engage in risky sex today, adolescents should remain a priority target group in health and population programs, there is a compelling need for involvement of youth in peer programs.


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