Title

Sexual Consent in Emerging Adulthood: Implications for sex education and families

Proposal Focus

Education

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs and behaviors of Emerging Adults relating to sexual consent, and how these ideas relate to an individual’s well-being. Specifically, this study used a survey that combined multiple questionnaires that were developed by the research team as well as an existing measure of consent: Sexual Consent Scale- Revised (Humphreys, T., & Brousseau, M. 2010). These questionnaires were used to answer the two questions that are the focus of this presentation and are of importance to schools, parents and family life educators: “How does an individual’s sexual behavior, beliefs or attitudes relate to individual wellbeing?” and “How does an individual’s sexual behavior relate to sexual consent?"

This study was a preliminary look into sexual consent in emerging adulthood with a focus on wellbeing. The study included a total of 74 females (77.1%) and 21 males (21.9%); One (1%) participant identified as Other. The range of ages was 18-28, with a mean age of 20.14 years (SD 2.091). A total of 37 different majors were included (Undergraduate and Graduate). Most students indicated they were single (n=51, 56.6%) and 39 individuals indicated they were in a relationship (n=39, 43.3%). The two most important findings for this presentation are: There is an “Idealized” idea of sexual consent, disconnected from behavior, highlighted by the cognitive dissonance shown in responses to two items— 93% of individuals strongly agreed to the item: “I feel that sexual consent should always be obtained before the start of any sexual activity,” yet only 11% strongly agreed to the statement “I always verbally ask for consent before I initiate a sexual encounter” and the second important finding relates to the hypothesis— “As lack of perceived behavioral control increases, scores of assuming consent will also increase”. The data showed there is a significant, strong, positive relationship between behavioral control and assuming consent (r=.570, p=.000), indicating an important connection.

This research is especially important in the current political/cultural climate—promoting sexual knowledge is becoming increasingly imperative for the overall wellbeing of individuals. The baseball model of getting to “bases” and “scoring” dominates US culture and may lead to ideas of competition versus ideas of mutual pleasure and enthusiastic consent. Educating families as well as youth is an important step to changing culture. Social Learning Theory provides a unique perspective in that both behavioral skills/practice and cognition need to be addressed in sex education in order to reinforce positive sexual consent behaviors. There is evidence that the time period from adolescence into emerging adulthood shows an increase in sexual risk taking, and the theory of Emerging Adulthood marks this time period as one of transitions and exploration (Arnett 2000, 2007). Educating youth before this time period may be key to promoting healthy behaviors.

This study is an initial investigation into a complex topic that can be used to facilitate a discussion on sexual consent as well as the current implications for families and parents that need to educate their children about these topics.

Keywords

sexual consent, sex education, family education, consent education, emerging adulthood

Location

Tiger I

Start Date

9-3-2018 10:15 AM

End Date

9-3-2018 11:30 AM

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Mar 9th, 10:15 AM Mar 9th, 11:30 AM

Sexual Consent in Emerging Adulthood: Implications for sex education and families

Tiger I

The purpose of this study was to examine the beliefs and behaviors of Emerging Adults relating to sexual consent, and how these ideas relate to an individual’s well-being. Specifically, this study used a survey that combined multiple questionnaires that were developed by the research team as well as an existing measure of consent: Sexual Consent Scale- Revised (Humphreys, T., & Brousseau, M. 2010). These questionnaires were used to answer the two questions that are the focus of this presentation and are of importance to schools, parents and family life educators: “How does an individual’s sexual behavior, beliefs or attitudes relate to individual wellbeing?” and “How does an individual’s sexual behavior relate to sexual consent?"

This study was a preliminary look into sexual consent in emerging adulthood with a focus on wellbeing. The study included a total of 74 females (77.1%) and 21 males (21.9%); One (1%) participant identified as Other. The range of ages was 18-28, with a mean age of 20.14 years (SD 2.091). A total of 37 different majors were included (Undergraduate and Graduate). Most students indicated they were single (n=51, 56.6%) and 39 individuals indicated they were in a relationship (n=39, 43.3%). The two most important findings for this presentation are: There is an “Idealized” idea of sexual consent, disconnected from behavior, highlighted by the cognitive dissonance shown in responses to two items— 93% of individuals strongly agreed to the item: “I feel that sexual consent should always be obtained before the start of any sexual activity,” yet only 11% strongly agreed to the statement “I always verbally ask for consent before I initiate a sexual encounter” and the second important finding relates to the hypothesis— “As lack of perceived behavioral control increases, scores of assuming consent will also increase”. The data showed there is a significant, strong, positive relationship between behavioral control and assuming consent (r=.570, p=.000), indicating an important connection.

This research is especially important in the current political/cultural climate—promoting sexual knowledge is becoming increasingly imperative for the overall wellbeing of individuals. The baseball model of getting to “bases” and “scoring” dominates US culture and may lead to ideas of competition versus ideas of mutual pleasure and enthusiastic consent. Educating families as well as youth is an important step to changing culture. Social Learning Theory provides a unique perspective in that both behavioral skills/practice and cognition need to be addressed in sex education in order to reinforce positive sexual consent behaviors. There is evidence that the time period from adolescence into emerging adulthood shows an increase in sexual risk taking, and the theory of Emerging Adulthood marks this time period as one of transitions and exploration (Arnett 2000, 2007). Educating youth before this time period may be key to promoting healthy behaviors.

This study is an initial investigation into a complex topic that can be used to facilitate a discussion on sexual consent as well as the current implications for families and parents that need to educate their children about these topics.