Moving Beyond "Risky Sex": Adolescent Sexual Resilience and Sexual Health in Young Adulthood
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Sexual behaviors in adolescence establish the initial resources an individual carries into sexual relationships in adulthood. Current definitions of sexual resilience in adolescence are defined from a negative, risk-based lens. Resilience theory, more generally defined, considers both internal and external factors that promote adaptation to challenging situations. A direct, capital-based approach to studying adolescent sexual resilience has not been found in the extant literature and I propose that a new, more inclusive definition of sexual resilience in adolescence will be more strongly correlated with sexual health in young adults than the risk-based definition. This study creates mutually exclusive risk-based and capital-based measures of adolescent sexual resilience and examines their associations with sexual health outcomes in young adulthood. The data did not produce significant findings, yet descriptive results provide direction for future research. Research in this area is of critical importance as adolescence and young adulthood are unique life stages that involve significant development in areas that influence health, both short and long term. This research, through a proper resilience lens, will better guide adolescent sexual education to develop internal resources as well as provide adequate external resources for adolescents that promote better sexual health and agency outcomes in adulthood.