Selling and Buying Sex: A Longitudinal Study of Risk and Protective Factors in Adolescence

Kaestle, Christine
September 2012
Prevention Science;Sep2012, Vol. 13 Issue 3, p314
Academic Journal
Engaging in trading sex is associated with many co-occurring problems, including elevated risk for sexually transmitted infections. Various dimensions of social support from parents, schools, and mentors may be protective against sex trading and may ameliorate the impact of risk factors. This study analyzes data from respondents to Waves I and III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health ( Add Health) who had not participated in sex trading for money or drugs in Wave I so that risk and protective factors for first initiations of selling or buying sex could be examined longitudinally. About 2% of the study sample began selling sex and about 2% began buying sex between Wave I and Wave III. The respondent's sex, race/ethnicity, history of sexual abuse, shoplifting, marijuana use, and experiences of homelessness or running away were significant predictors of trading sex ( p < 0.05). Being happy at school was associated with lower selling of sex, and feeling part of school was associated with lower buying of sex even after controlling for demographics and risk factors ( p < 0.05). Results indicate a need for early intervention for youth who experience sexual abuse or running away. Elements of school connectedness have a protective effect on selling and buying sex. Promoting school connectedness may advance public health goals.


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