Traeen, B. (2003). Effects of an Intervention to Prevent Unwanted Pregnancy in Adolescents. A Randomized, Prospective Study from Norland County, Norway, 1999-2001

Article excerpt

Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 13, 207-223.

The social context in which sexual health education is provided to adolescents differs markedly between the North American and Scandinavian cultures. For example, as Traeen observes,

   In Nordic culture, adolescent sexuality is
   socially accepted on the condition that the
   young man and woman are in a committed
   relationship and have taken a common
   responsibility for use of contraception ... It is
   the responsible and not the passionate aspects
   of sexuality that are idealized in the Nordic
   context. This means that even in passionate
   contexts the ideal is to act responsibly and
   use contraception (p. 208).

Although such attitudes may be seen as relatively progressive in comparison to North American culture, Norway is considered relatively conservative in comparison to other Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands in particular. This can be seen in the comparatively low levels of sex education provided in Norwegian schools. According to the author, approximately a quarter of sexually active Norwegian teenagers do not use contraception. The objective of the author's study was to evaluate the impact of providing teachers and secondary school students with a sex education curriculum book for use in the classroom. The main chapter titles of the book, translated from Norwegian, were as follows: (1) Being Young, (2) Sexuality, (3) Sexual Development, (4) Becoming Aroused, (5) To Enjoy Sex With Myself, (6) Who Do I Fall in Love With, and Who Makes Me Aroused, (7) I and the Others, (8) Becoming a Couple, (9) Living Together, (10) Touching and Being Touched, (11) Contraception, (12) Abortion, (13) Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and (14) When Sex and Life Together Become Difficult.

Fifty-four schools in northern Norway participated in the study with 38 schools receiving the curriculum books and 36 serving as controls. Subjects were male and female students aged 15-16. A Solomon four-group design was used to measure the impact of the intervention. The 99-item questionnaire assessed various aspects of sexuality and emphasized contraceptive use. Prior to the distribution of the books, a pre-test was conducted in October/ November 1999 and a post-test was conducted in May 2000. …