175778 Perceived school safety and age at sexual debut among rural, suburban, and urban adolescents

Monday, October 27, 2008

Alice L. March, RN PhD , Capstone College of Nursing, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Significance: Safety at school is a primary objective of educators. The prevention of early intercourse and the resultant loss of educational opportunity from teenage pregnancy benefits individuals and society. Studies have failed to address perceived school safety (PSS), the relationship between PSS and age at sexual debut (SD), and how this relationship is modified by residence or gender. Studies investigating school safety may provide improved understanding of factors affecting age at SD. Therefore, this study investigated the relationship between age at SD and PSS.

Methodology: A secondary analysis of the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data tested the model of factors affecting age at sexual debut. Multifactor ANOVAs analyzed the relationships between perceived school safety and age at sexual debut while controlling for location of residence.

Findings: Females were more likely to report PSS. Males and females reporting PSS were older at SD than those who did not report PSS. Rural females were older at SD than either urban or suburban females. Urban males were younger at SD than suburban or rural males.

Conclusions: As predicted by the guiding theory of problem behavior, control structures, support via the provision of safe schools may delay sexual debut. The findings of the current study supported this proposition by finding that adolescents who reported perceived safe schools were older at sexual debut then those who did not report perceived safe schools. This information can be used to support the need for funding to develop and provide interventions designed to support school safety.

Learning Objectives:
State the relationship between perceived school safety and age at sexual debut. List two factors considered to be positive indicators of school safety. Articulate one effect that location of residence has on rural, suburban, and urban adolescents as related to age at sexual debut.

Keywords: Adolescents, Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This is work completed as part of my dissertation, defended May 2006.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.