The Role of Sexual Socialization in the Development of Adolescent Sexual Self-Control

Lori A. Muccino, The Ohio State University

In A General Theory of Crime, Gottfredson and Hirschi asserted that low self-control is a product of child-rearing processes, with self-control instilled in children by the approximate age of 8 through socialization. Their theory anticipates that socialization varies in degree, with those receiving the most effective socialization possessing the most self-control. However, Gottfredson and Hirschi did not elaborate on differences in the nature and character of socialization, and the potential implications of these differences for behavioral outcomes. As a refinement of their theory, I propose that a general measure of self-control is not sufficient to explain sexual behaviors. Rather, a domain-specific measure of self-control, which I term "sexual self-control," will be more strongly associated with adolescent sexual outcomes. I propose and test that parent-child socialization as to sexual behavior is distinct from a more general process of socialization that yields general self-control as to other delinquent or analogous behaviors. I use data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to model sexual socialization as a process distinct from general socialization; analyze sexual and general; socialization, self-control, and behavioral outcomes within and between gender and race; and discuss the implications for self-control theory.

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Updated 05/20/2006