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Adolescence. 1996 Spring;31(121):217-31.

Understanding gender differences in adolescent sexuality.

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Institute for Research and Evaluation, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.


More than 1,800 junior high school students were surveyed regarding sexual activity. It was found that females were less likely to have "ever had sex" but among nonvirgins there was little gender difference in frequency or recency. Items measuring sexual values indicated greater commitment to abstinence and less permissive sexual attitudes among females. Females also saw sexual activity as more detrimental to future goal attainment. They viewed parents as less approving, but were more likely to discuss sex and dating practices with them. They reported parents as having more rules and were more likely to believe that they were unfair, and that they had gone against the parents' rules. Females perceived less peer pressure for sex and more support for waiting. However, more males anticipated partner pressure for sex and believed they might "have sex" before marriage. Males and females reported no difference in the importance of parenthood, but more females saw teen parenthood as a problem. No gender differences were found for smoking or drinking. Significantly more males had experienced petting behavior. Females were more likely to believe that sexual urges can be controlled. It was concluded that understanding these differences can help in the design of sex education and social programs to address problems associated with adolescent sexuality.

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