Attitudes, experience, and anticipation of sex among 5th graders in an urban setting: Does gender matter?
To identify gender differences in correlates of anticipation and initiation of sexual activity in the baseline survey of 562 African-American 5th grade students prior to initiation of a school-based pregnancy prevention intervention curriculum. Students from 16 elementary schools were administered the baseline questionnaire during classroom periods. Using these data, binary and ordered logistic regression models were used to analyze the factors affecting virginity and anticipation of sexual activity separately by gender, and tests of interaction between each factor and gender were conducted on the combined sample. More boys than girls had already had sex (18% vs. 5%) and anticipated having sexual intercourse in the next 12 months (56% vs. 22%). Boys and girls also differed in the factors that affected these outcomes. The perception that their neighborhood was safe reduced the odds that boys anticipated sexual activity but was not associated with this outcome among girls. Pubertal knowledge increased the odds of anticipation, but only among boys. Attitudes favoring abstinence decreased anticipation of sex among both genders, but slightly more among girls than boys. Having more frequent parent–child communication about sex was associated with increased anticipation among girls but decreased anticipation among boys. Curriculum based approaches to adolescent pregnancy prevention are appropriate for 5th grade elementary students who may already be anticipating sexual activity in communities with disproportionate rates of teen pregnancy. The design of the interventions should consider the differences in motivating factors by gender.