Background Little is known about how and where an adolescent lives and spends time relates to her health-related behaviours. Social disorder, or where crime occurs, is associated with various health outcomes but few have considered its association with adolescent sexual behaviour. Our objective was to assess whether contextual exposure to social disorder is correlated with self-reported sexual intercourse among adolescent girls.
Design and Methods Girls (N=48), aged 14–16, were recruited from a single geographic urban area and monitored for 1 week using a GPS-enabled cell phone. Adolescents completed an ACASI survey on self-reported sexual intercourse in the last 30 days. In addition to recorded home and school address, phones transmitted location data every 5 min (travel points). Using ArcGIS, we defined social disorder as aggregated point-level Unified Crime Report data within a 200 metre Euclidian buffer from home and each travel point. Using Stata, we analysed how social disorder exposures differed among girls who reported having sex or not.
Results Girls reporting sexual activity spent less time at home (30.9% vs 55.7%, p<0.001) and more time at least 5 km away from home (29.5% vs 12.4%, p=0.01). Girls who reported sex in the last 30 days lived in areas of higher social disorder than girls not reporting sex (p=0.01). There were no significant differences in exposure to social disorder based on travel data among girls reporting sex or not, however. Exposure to social disorder varied by school/non-school day as well as time of day. [Abstract O1-S11.05 figure 1].
Conclusions Even within neighbourhoods, social disorder surrounding the home as defined by crime within a 1-block radius correlates with adolescent sexual intercourse behaviour. Although adolescents reporting having sex are less likely to spend time at home and more likely to be further from home than girls not reporting sex, the areas where they travel to are not different in terms of social disorder.
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