Adolescent Romantic Relations and Sexual Behavior: Theory, Research, and Practical Implications

By Paul Florsheim | Go to book overview

15
The Joy of Romance:
Healthy Adolescent Relationships
as an Educational Agenda
Bonnie L. Barber
University of Arizona
Jacquelynne S. Eccles
University of Michigan

The diversity of topics covered in this volume on adolescent romantic relationships and sexuality highlights the increasing complexity with which we view these topics. Covering different perspectives and approaches, the authors highlight three broad themes of importance to educators and educational policy makers: (a) romance and sex are normative, important elements of adolescent development; (b) as we think about adolescent partnerships, we need to consider how individual differences interact with relationship contexts to either foster or undermine positive development and healthy growth; and (c) gender and gendered development are critically important components of romantic relationships and sexuality. That these themes are so salient in this book reflects a shift from the consideration of sexuality in adolescence as a deviant or risky behavior to the emergence of more complex frameworks that focus on the quality and diversity of adolescent romantic and sexual experiences. Until recently, research on adolescent sexuality has been focused on problematic aspects—pregnancy, STDs, and failure to use contraception (Koch, 1993). The authors in this volume have provided a rich and multifaceted view of adolescent romantic relations and sexuality, illustrating the need for educational programs and policies that are responsive to the characteristics of the youth they target. This theme was also highlighted in Andrew Collins's 2002 presidential address at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence (Collins, 2002).

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