Poster Presentation

Monday, November 5, 2007
10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Monday, November 5, 2007
1:45 PM - 3:00 PM
This presentation is part of : Rising Stars Posters
"I Wish They Would Have Told Me": Exploring Adolescent Mothers' Perceptions of School-based Sexuality Education
Tammy C. Jones, BSN, RNC, College of Nursing, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA
Learning Objective #1: recognize that adolescent mothers have valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of school-based sexuality education programs (SBSE).
Learning Objective #2: understand how a feministic approach influenced the study.

Purpose:  To explore adolescent mothers’ perceptions of school-based sexuality education (SBSE) and answer the research question, “What do adolescent mothers perceive as important about the structure, composition, and presentation of SBSE?” 

Significance:  Despite 800,000 adolescent births per year in the United States, SBSE remains one of the nation’s most controversial issues. Rarely is there a forum for adolescent participation in the debate. When adolescent perspectives are included, they are usually limited to closed-ended surveys, effectively silencing the stories they have to share. Interviewing adolescent mothers could provide the insider perspective through true-to-life examples and meaningful stories about their SBSE experiences.

Methods:  The researcher conducted in-depth interviews for this qualitative feministic research study. The purposive sample consisted of three adolescents between the ages of 15-19 who were pregnant or had birthed a child and self-reported attendance in SBSE. The researcher used content analysis and constant comparison for data analysis.

Findings:  Participants’ stories compared and contrasted the actual content, structure and presentation of SBSE they received with what they desired. All subjects repeated phrases such as “I wish they would have told me” and “They don’t tell you that”. They all shared the same “wish” for more knowledge about the sex act and openness in the classroom. Also resonating, was the frustration of being told to “use protection” without being told how. Of further interest were their accounts of peer influence on sexual decision-making. Two of the subjects identified “peer pressure” as the primary reason they decided to have sex.

Discussion:  Findings from this study indicate that young mothers can provide healthcare professionals, educators and policy makers with insight into the strengths and weaknesses of current SBSE. Additional research examining the impact of peer and parental influence on adolescent sexual decision-making could prove beneficial to the development of effective SBSE programs.