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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Sexual risk in adolescent males

connell school news

Connell School Clinical Instructor Alyssa Harris has been awarded two grants to examine sexual risk among urban African American adolescent males. The funding will allow her to further her studies of adolescent sexual behaviors, the factors that influence those behaviors, and interventions that may impact sexual risk. In particular, Harris' study will examine the relationships of parent-child sexual communication and closeness between African American parents and their sons, and the impact of parental influence in reducing risk behaviors.

"There is a significant body of literature related to African American mother-daughter sexual communication," says Harris, "but research on males is limited. Evidence has shown that parent-adolescent relationships and communication about sexuality are essential in reducing risk behaviors. Since African American male youth are more likely than Caucasian and Hispanic adolescent males to initiate sexual activity at a younger age, have multiple partners, acquire STIs, and father children, it is important to study this perspective in order to add to the body of knowledge on adolescent sexual risk behaviors."

A Boston College faculty member since 2007, Harris is also the director of operations and director of nursing at Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center. She was awarded the Mary Elizabeth Carnegie Grant and the Nurses in AIDS Care Grant from the American Nurses Foundation (ANA), the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association, which supports the ANA through research and scholarship.