Sociocultural contexts of adolescent sexual behavior in rural Hanover, Jamaica

Damon Smith, Michele Roofe, John Ehiri, Sheila Campbell-Forrester, Curtis Jolly, Pauline Jolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate sexual behavior of adolescents in rural Hanover, Jamaica, and to elucidate the cultural contexts of this behavior. Methods: Focus group discussion (FGD) sessions with 73 out-of-school young adolescents aged 15 to 18 years, recruited from health centers, as well as community-based organizations through the Social Development Commission (SDC) in Hanover, a local youth and community development organization, within the Ministry of Local Government, Youth and Community Development. The discussions focused on the adolescents' knowledge of sex and sexual risks, perceived vulnerability to sexual risks, use of protection, self-efficacy, and societal expectations. Data were analyzed, using the content analysis technique. Results: Analyses of transcripts revealed the existence of different sexual scripts for males and females. Whereas females are culturally restrained, abstinence is less desirable for males. Both male and female adolescents expressed the view that the family was an important part of an adolescent's life, and has a strong influence on adolescent sexual behavior. Perception of vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, and knowledge of sexual risks among the adolescents was low, and often erroneous. Conclusions: The results show that sexual attitudes and behavior of adolescents in the study setting are shaped by cultural and gender norms that impose different standards on males and females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Adolescent risk reduction
  • Adolescents
  • Contraceptive use
  • Gender norms
  • Jamaica
  • Reproductive health
  • Sexual health
  • Sociocultural contexts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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