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Family and Peer Group Antecedents of Youth Risk Behaviors: The Case of Central Luzon

The study explores the role of the family and peer group on the risk-taking behavior of Central Luzon youth. It specifically looked into the relationship between living away from home, parental permissiveness, family stability, family structure, peer activity and association with a sexually experienced friend, on one hand, and involvement in premarital sex (PMS), smoking, drinking or drug use and violence and suicide ideation, on the other. The study used the data of the Youth Adult Fertility and Sexuality Surveys (YAFS) which was conducted in April and June 2002. A the third in a series of nationality-representative surveys on adolescents jointly undertaken by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation. Central Luzon youth comprised 7.53 percent of the almost 20,000 young Filipinos included in the survey. A total of 1,266 respondents belonging to the 15-24 age groups served as samples. The analysis made, worked on the framework that the impact of the family and peer group manifests through the attitude of the youth, their self esteem and value system which eventually impinges on their decision to engage in risky behaviors. Age and sex as precursors to engagement in early sexual relations such that the older adolescents and the males, are more likely to engage in it. Familial factors had no significant effect on the likelihood to PMS involvement. However, peer influence proved to be a significantly strong risk factor. Those who are associated with a sexually experienced friend and involved in hazardous peer activities are at greater risk. Smoking, drinking and drug use, age and sex persisted as influential factors where the males and older adolescents are at greater risk than their female and younger counterparts, respectively. Again, the impact of the peer group is significant where the probability of smoking, drinking or using drugs is more than twice when exposed to a sexually experienced friend. A regression model for suicide ideation was not pursued because of the limited number of cases identified which could question its predictive stability. However, for the other risk behavior the males and younger adolescents were more inclined to engage in violence. Family stability is a predictive factor where youth of unstable families are more likely to engage in this risky behavior, and also an increased likelihood of involvement among those who are associated with a sexually experienced friend and those who had a low self esteem. Moreover, peer influence had stronger impact on the risk taking behavior of the youth than the family. The identified peer factors consistently had significant effect on all risk behaviors. However, all the familial factors considered failed to figure out significantly except for family stability which acted as deterrent to involvement in violence. Although the family did not figure out significantly in the models predicting engagement in risk behaviors, it worked indirectly by shaping the value system, self esteem and attitude of the adolescents which discouraged them from engaging in early sexual relations and violence.


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