Sexual behaviour in early adolescence: a cross-national comparison of Australian and United States youth

Prendergast, Laura E., Leung, Rachel K., Toumbourou, John W., Taft, Angela, Mcmorris, Barbara J. and Catalano, Richard F. 2017, Sexual behaviour in early adolescence: a cross-national comparison of Australian and United States youth, Australian journal of psychology, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 3-11, doi: 10.1111/ajpy.12118.

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Title Sexual behaviour in early adolescence: a cross-national comparison of Australian and United States youth
Author(s) Prendergast, Laura E.
Leung, Rachel K.ORCID iD for Leung, Rachel K.
Toumbourou, John W.
Taft, Angela
Mcmorris, Barbara J.
Catalano, Richard F.
Journal name Australian journal of psychology
Volume number 69
Issue number 1
Start page 3
End page 11
Total pages 9
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2017-03
ISSN 0004-9530
Keyword(s) Social Sciences
Psychology, Multidisciplinary
adolescent development
problem behaviour theory
sexual behaviour
sexual initiation
Summary Objective: This study used matched samples from schools in the states of Victoria and Washington to compare sexual behaviour in early adolescence. It was hypothesised that the contrasting dominant policy objectives of harm minimisation in Australia and abstinence in the USA would result in state differences for markers of sexual risk, mirroring prior cross-national findings in substance use. Method: A two-stage cluster sampling approach was used to recruit students from the two states. Self-reported sexual behaviour was examined for 1,596 students in annual surveys from Grade 7 in 2002 to Grade 9 in 2004. Prevalence estimates were derived for each measure of sexual behaviour, and comparisons were made between gender groups in each state. Results: State differences were found for girls' first sex, with significantly more girls in Washington than Victoria having had sex by Grade 7. By Grade 9, significantly more girls in Victoria reported sex in the last year and more sexual partners than girls in Washington. A large proportion of Grade 9 students across both states reported inconsistent contraception use. Conclusions: Contradicting the abstinence policy objective, first sex by Grade 7 was more prevalent in Washington than in Victoria. While sexual behaviour was more prevalent in Grade 9 in Victoria, the sexually active showed no clear cross-national differences in markers of risk such as contraception use and pregnancy outcomes. Findings demonstrate few cross-national differences in adolescent sexual behaviour despite the different policy contexts of Victoria and Washington.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/ajpy.12118
Field of Research 170102 Developmental Psychology and Ageing
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
1701 Psychology
1702 Cognitive Science
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, The Australian Psychological Society.
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
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