Predicting Youth Sexual Deviance: The Case of Risky Sexual Behaviour among Adolescents in Ghana
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ABSTRACT Although sub-Saharan Africa continues to bear the brunt of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and other sexually transmitted diseases (UNAIDS and WHO 2008; Fatusi and Wang 2009), very few studies in the region and for that matter Ghana have systematically and exclusively examined adolescent risky sexual behaviour in a manner that is theoretically consistent with the unique socio-cultural norms that govern sexuality in the society. Given that involvement in risky sexual behaviour constitutes sexual deviance in the Ghanaian context, and from the ontological position that behaviour is a product of structure and human agency (Sewell 1992), this study extends the theories of social control (Hirschi 1969), power control (Hagan et al. 1979, 1985,1987, 2002; McCarthy et al. 1999) and rational choice (Cornish and Clarke 1986) in examining the predictors of risky sexual behavior among Ghanaian adolescents. Using the 2004 Ghana National Adolescent Survey data (N=3985), the study employs descriptive statistics, measures of association and complementary log-log regression models in predicting the likelihood of being sexually active before marriage, having more than one lifetime sexual partner and condom use. Overall findings provide mixed support for the theoretical expectations. From the perspective of Hirschi’s control theory, the findings suggest among others that while some measures of conventional behaviour do not discourage premarital sex, they do so with respect to multiple sexual partnerships. A puzzle that needs further elaboration is the finding that highly educated adolescents who hold leadership positions have a higher significant taste for premarital sex and multiple sexual relations than their uneducated counterparts who are not leaders. Overall findings regarding the predictions of power control theory are consistent with the revised version offered by McCarthy and Colleagues (1999) and Hagan and colleagues (2002); that daughters in less patriarchal or matriarchal households are more likely than sons to have premarital sex and be in multiple sexual partnerships. Findings regarding the predictions of rational theory suggest a mixed rationality; condom use among adolescents in many instances is inconsistent with rational choice behaviour. General and specific policy implications of the findings and direction for future research are also discussed.