Conceptualizing positive adolescent sexuality development

  • Stephen T. Russell


Is it possible to conceptualize adolescent sexuality in positive terms? Social control characterizes the cultural strategies for managing both adolescence and sexuality, yet social movements have emerged in recent decades that have challenged historical social norms and boundaries for both sexuality and adolescence. In this article, developing trends in adolescent sexual experience (behavior, attitudes, and knowledge) are examined, as are cultural, institutional, and person-level processes that characterize the development of sexuality in adolescence. The real sexual experiences of contemporary youth are shown to present a remarkable contradiction to hitherto traditional ideals for adolescent sexuality. This tension between typical adolescent experiences and cultural expectations and proscriptions for adolescent sexual expression serves as a backdrop for examination of recent and potential advances in programs, policies, and research regarding adolescent sexuality. The analysis of recent programs and policies reveals underlying values that are fundamentally at odds, highlighting important avenues for future inquiry.

Key words

sexual health adolescent development adolescent sexuality 


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Family Studies and Human DevelopmentUniversity of ArizonaTucson

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