To Do It or Not To Do It Is Not The Only Question: Early Adolescent Girls' and Boys' Experiences with Dating and Sexuality
Year Published: 2003
Authors: Alice Michael, Ph.D., Michelle Porche, Ed.D., Deborah L. Tolman, Ed.D., Renee Spencer, Ed.D., Myra Rosen-Reynoso, Ed.M
This paper provides a 'snapshot' of under-investigated aspects of sexuality among early adolescent girls and boys in order to contribute to a broadening articulation of sexual health during adolescence. Survey reports of dating, non-coital sexual behaviors and experience of those behaviors, sexual-self concept, and reasons to initiate or delay sexual intercourse were obtained from 8th graders (148 girls, 133 boys; 58% white, 20% Latina/o) in a northeastern school district. Findings are described with attention to gendered cultural scripts prescribing different experiences of sexuality for girls and boys. Results indicate that the majority of boys and girls are dating and have had experiences of holding hands and kissing by the 8th grade, fewer youth have participated in sexual touching or intercourse. Both girls and boys frequently endorse relational (as opposed to instrumental or passive) reasons for their dating and sexual choices. However, several patterns suggest that the gendered script is manifest in the behavior, experiences, and developing sexual selves of early adolescents, particularly among the Latina/o youth. Findings are discussed as they contribute to the goal of fostering sexual health for adolescent girls and boys from diverse backgrounds.