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An Ethnographic Study of Sexual Risk Among Latino Adolescents in North Carolina

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The purpose of this ethnographic study was to explore the cultural meaning of sexual risk from the perspectives of Latino adolescents and their parents in the context of migration. Throughout 1 year, in-depth interviews and participant observation were conducted with Latino adolescents (n = 25) and their parents (n = 18) in rural North Carolina. Three themes emerged from the data. First, cultural norms of la fiesta de los quince años clashed with mainstream U.S. norms of early dating and sexual exploration. Second, “boyfriend as husband” was perceived as both a sexual risk and a means of financial security. Third, libertinaje/sexual freedom was ignored in both the community and the school. The study suggests that immigrant Latino families could benefit from capacity-building strategies within the school and community. Strengthening community support surrounding la fiesta de los quince años may preserve culture and support healthy male–female relationships.

Spanish
El proposito de este studio etnografico fue el de explorar el significado cultural de riesgos sexuales desde el punto de vista de los adolescents Latino y sus padres dentro del contexto de la imigracion. A lo largo de un año se realizaron etrevistas a fondo y se condujeron observaciones en adolescents Latinos (n = 25) y sus padres (n = 18) en una zona rural de Carolina del Norte. De esta investigacion salieron a relucir tres temas de importancia; primero, las normas o conceptos culturales de “la fiesta de los quince años” resultaron contradictorios a los conceptos o normas de noviazgo y exploracion sexual, tipicos de la cultura Estadounidense. Segundo, el concepto de “Novio como esposo” fue percivido como ambos; un riesgo sexual y modo de seguridad financiero. Tercero, el concepto de “libertad sexual” fue practicamente ignorado, en la comunidad tanto como en la escuela. Este studio sugiere que las familias Latinas imigrantes se beneficiarian al aprender nuevas estrategias, guías a construir o aumentar sus capacidades en el contexto de la comunidad y la escuela. El reforzar el apoyo comunitario hacia el concepto de “la fiesta de los quince años” podria preserver la cultura y apoyar el desarrollo de relaciones saludables entre el hombre y la mujer.
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Keywords: CULTURAL NORMS; ETHNOGRAPHY; LATINO ADOLESCENTS; SEXUAL RISK

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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