Sexual Risk and Protective Factors – Full Report


This report by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCPTUP) summarizes findings from more than 400 research studies in an effort to answer these two questions: 1) What factors influence adolescents’ decisions about sex? and 2) Which of these factors can be altered? By identifying and targeting those factors that both affect adolescents’ decisions about sex and can be changed by interventions, adolescents can greatly increase their chances of reducing sexual risk-taking.

Factors that influences decisions about sex include: initiation and frequency of sex, number of partners, and use of contraception. Environmental factors such as community, family dynamics, peer behaviors and romantic partner, along with individual factors like gender, race, attachment to success, faith/spirituality, attachment to community, drug and alcohol use, and personality traits are examined.

  • Risk factors are those that encourage behavior that could result in a pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease (STD) or, conversely, that discourage behavior that could prevent them.” (Kirby & Lepore, 2007, p. 1)
  • Protective factors are those that discourage behavior that could lead to a pregnancy or STD or that encourage behavior that can help prevent them.” (Kirby & Lepore, 2007, p. 1)

Citation: Kirby, D. & Lepore, G. (2007). Sexual risk & protective factors: Factors affecting sexual behavior, pregnancy, childbearing and sexually transmitted disease. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. 1-11

Link to article. 

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