Attitudes, Intervention, and Sexual Initiation among Chinese Adolescents

Bo Wang, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Ann Meier, University of Minnesota

This study investigates the role of sex education in changing sexual attitudes and behaviors among adolescents in a developing nation where western influences and liberalizing norms have only taken hold over the last several decades. Based on pre- and post- intervention data from a "treatment" and "control" group study in suburban Shanghai, China, we investigate the effects of a WHO-sponsored comprehensive sex education program on adolescent sex attitudes and behavior. We find that while the intervention did not deter adolescents from initiating sexual activity, it did have a significant effect on their attitudes about sex. In turn, attitudes influenced sexual initiation. In this way, the intervention program indirectly delayed the start of sexual behavior among Shanghai adolescents. Additionally, having sex leads to more favorable attitudes. This study suggests diffusion pathways through which rapidly changing adolescent sexual behavior may be influenced in this cultural context.

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Presented in Session 119: Adolescent Reproductive Health in Asia and the Near East