Stress Increases Risky Sexual Behavior in Adolescents, Study Finds

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The Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES) of New Orleans presented BY! NOLA! (Believe in Youth, New Orleans, LA) Leadership Summit on Adolescent Health, to reveal the findings from its newest survey, on November 18, at the Loews Hotel in New Orleans.

According to Dr. Denese Shervington, founder and president of IWES, New Orleans became a central focus after Hurricane Katrina due to local experts’ predictions that the “mental health crisis” experienced by survivors of the disaster, could have implications for the health and well-being of community members for years to come. As a board-certified psychiatrist and public health leader, with a specialty in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dr. Shervington was aware of the long-term consequences and traumatic impact on the vulnerable populations, such as children.

The survey, titled “What Puts Youth At Risk?” revealed post-Katrina stress, neighborhood crime and domestic violence can influence sexual behavior among adolescents. A total of 527 adolescents participated in the survey from August 2013 through August 2014 and were interviewed in person for signs of emotional stress and trauma. The results indicated 70 percent of participants reported feeling stressed; 49 percent indicated over the last year they worried that they might get shot, stabbed, beaten, or murdered; 39 percent revealed witnessing domestic violence; 48 percent indicated over the last year have experienced murder, while 15.6 percent have witnessed murder.

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