A University of Illinois researcher advises caution when trying to characterize gender roles and sexual behavior among this country’s Latino adolescents and young adults.
“When a recent documentary about U.S. Latinos featured two teen mothers in a 90-minute program, the Latino students in my classes thought it was an unbalanced portrayal of their community—and they were right!” said Marcela Raffaelli, a U of I professor of human and community development and co-author of a recently published chapter on Latino teen sexuality.
National surveys do show that Latino young people as a group are less likely than their non-Latino peers to use condoms and birth control and are more likely to become pregnant and have a child. But these statistics hide a much more complicated picture, she said.
For one thing, Latinos represent more than 20 different groups, and they live in very different situations in the United States.