Posted on March 9, 2005

Hispanic Teen Sex Study Puzzling

Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle, March 8, 2005

As Hispanic teens shed the language of their native countries and immerse themselves in American culture, they become dramatically more sexually active, a new study shows.

A review of 7,300 Arizona teenagers’ behavior, which should translate well to other states that border Mexico, including Texas, found that 31 percent of Hispanic teens who speak primarily English have had sex, more than twice the percentage of those who speak primarily Spanish, 14 percent.

The key question — why? — remains unanswered.

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Dr. Peggy Smith, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine and director of Ben Taub Hospital’s Teen Health Clinic, said the trends in the study follow what she has observed.

Smith says as Hispanic girls become more immersed in U.S. culture, if they are unmarried when they become pregnant, they tend to be far less inclined to marry before or soon after the child is born.

That means the children are being raised in single-parent homes, which has financial ramifications, and studies have clearly shown that opportunities and outcomes for such children are far lower than compared to two-parent families, Smith said.

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