UM LogoAccording to a latest study, allowing teens to work for long hours in the wrong environment could perhaps be hazardous for their sexual health. Apparently, the wrong surroundings foster conditions which lead them to older sex partners.This was known to be only one of the key findings in a University of Michigan study about youth on what predicts the age of sex partners.

In order to observe what factors predicted sex partner age difference, Bauermeister’s team examined youths in Flint, Mich. as they transitioned from adolescence to young adulthood who were in the ages 14 through 25. The study discovered that several factors could possibly lead to age differences in sex partners, with girls usually dating older than boys and young men.

Study author, and an assistant research professor in the School of Public Health, Jose Bauermeister, was of the opinion that age difference of sex partners seems to be important, because a larger age difference is associated with riskier sexual behavior and STDs, including HIV.

Bauermeister noted that working for too long hours in an adult atmosphere without sufficient supervision could perhaps lead to exposure in adults and eventually sexual activity with older partners, especially for young girls. The study found that, age and number of work hours seems to matter in adolescents, however no negative impact was seen after age 18 or 19.

Bauermeister claimed that the findings revealed that a youth’s self esteem and intake of alcohol may also play a crucial role in the age difference between sex partners. In addition, findings showed that generally, teenagers who work part-time seem to benefit in almost all areas in contrast to those who don’t have jobs. However, these benefits come with a warning.

Bauermeister said that, “It’s OK to let kids work. We want to make sure they are spending time in an environment where it’s safe to work. Parents must ask the right questions and make sure it’s a safe place for their children.”

It was believed that high self esteem and less consumption of alcohol balances the negative effects of working too many hours. Also, these factors seem to protect youth overall from engaging in riskier sexual behavior.

The study also discovered that girls are more likely to date older boys from age 14 on. They seem to be similar to the high school dropouts and teens who consume alcohol. It was observed that boys at age 14 date people their own age. However, when they reach age 18, they start dating younger women.

Experts anticipate that sex education programs and other efforts to reduce young sex partners’ age differences should aim to enhance self-acceptance and academic achievement and reduce alcohol consumption.

This study called as, ‘What predicts sex partners’ age differences among African American youth? A longitudinal study from adolescence to young adulthood,’ has been published online.