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What explains between-school differences in rates of sexual experience?

Henderson M, Butcher I, Wight D, Williamson L, Raab G - BMC Public Health (2008)

Bottom Line: It then examined whether these residuals, or 'school effects', were attributable to processes within the school, or were more likely to reflect characteristics of the neighbourhood.Multi-level modelling was used to test a range of models and the resulting 'school effects' were then interpreted using the process data.Importantly, school processes did not explain the variation between schools in sexual experience.

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Affiliation: MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow, UK. marion@msoc.mrc.gla.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: Schools have the potential to influence their pupils' behaviour through the school's social organisation and culture, as well as through the formal curriculum. This paper provides the first attempt to explain the differences between schools in rates of reported heterosexual sexual experience amongst 15 and 16 year olds. It first examined whether variations in rates of sexual experience remained after controlling for the known predictors of sexual activity. It then examined whether these residuals, or 'school effects', were attributable to processes within the school, or were more likely to reflect characteristics of the neighbourhood.

Methods: Longitudinal survey data from 4,926 pupils in 24 Scottish schools were linked to qualitative and quantitative data on school processes including quality of relationships (staff-pupil, etc), classroom discipline, organisation of Personal and Social Education, school appearance and pupil morale. Multi-level modelling was used to test a range of models and the resulting 'school effects' were then interpreted using the process data.

Results: Overall, 42% of girls and 33% of boys reported experience of sexual intercourse, with rates by school ranging from 23% to 61%. When individual socio-economic and socio-cultural factors were taken into account the school variation dropped sharply, though pupils' attitudes and aspirations had little effect. There was very little correlation between boys' and girls' rates of sexual experience by school, after controlling for known predictors of sexual activity. Girls were more influenced by individual socio-economic factors than boys. School-level socio-economic factors were predictive even after taking account of individual socio-cultural factors, suggesting that the wider socio-economic environment further influenced young people's sexual experience.

Conclusion: Importantly, school processes did not explain the variation between schools in sexual experience. Rather, the variation may have been due to neighbourhood culture.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Comparison of models 1, 2 & 7 – girls (weighted).
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Figure 2: Comparison of models 1, 2 & 7 – girls (weighted).

Mentions: School-level predictions were generated using values for schools arising from each model to adjust the proportion of sexually active pupils for each gender. Results presented in Figures 1 (males) and 2 (females) and Table 3.


What explains between-school differences in rates of sexual experience?

Henderson M, Butcher I, Wight D, Williamson L, Raab G - BMC Public Health (2008)

Comparison of models 1, 2 & 7 – girls (weighted).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2277387&req=5

Figure 2: Comparison of models 1, 2 & 7 – girls (weighted).
Mentions: School-level predictions were generated using values for schools arising from each model to adjust the proportion of sexually active pupils for each gender. Results presented in Figures 1 (males) and 2 (females) and Table 3.

Bottom Line: It then examined whether these residuals, or 'school effects', were attributable to processes within the school, or were more likely to reflect characteristics of the neighbourhood.Multi-level modelling was used to test a range of models and the resulting 'school effects' were then interpreted using the process data.Importantly, school processes did not explain the variation between schools in sexual experience.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow, UK. marion@msoc.mrc.gla.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: Schools have the potential to influence their pupils' behaviour through the school's social organisation and culture, as well as through the formal curriculum. This paper provides the first attempt to explain the differences between schools in rates of reported heterosexual sexual experience amongst 15 and 16 year olds. It first examined whether variations in rates of sexual experience remained after controlling for the known predictors of sexual activity. It then examined whether these residuals, or 'school effects', were attributable to processes within the school, or were more likely to reflect characteristics of the neighbourhood.

Methods: Longitudinal survey data from 4,926 pupils in 24 Scottish schools were linked to qualitative and quantitative data on school processes including quality of relationships (staff-pupil, etc), classroom discipline, organisation of Personal and Social Education, school appearance and pupil morale. Multi-level modelling was used to test a range of models and the resulting 'school effects' were then interpreted using the process data.

Results: Overall, 42% of girls and 33% of boys reported experience of sexual intercourse, with rates by school ranging from 23% to 61%. When individual socio-economic and socio-cultural factors were taken into account the school variation dropped sharply, though pupils' attitudes and aspirations had little effect. There was very little correlation between boys' and girls' rates of sexual experience by school, after controlling for known predictors of sexual activity. Girls were more influenced by individual socio-economic factors than boys. School-level socio-economic factors were predictive even after taking account of individual socio-cultural factors, suggesting that the wider socio-economic environment further influenced young people's sexual experience.

Conclusion: Importantly, school processes did not explain the variation between schools in sexual experience. Rather, the variation may have been due to neighbourhood culture.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus