How do young people understand and communicate their heterosexual readiness: A Mixed Methods Systematic Review

Michelle Templeton, Maria Lohan, Carmel Kelly, Laura Lundy

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Young people’s understandings of sexual readiness are under-researched and their perspectives are often missing in debates about sexuality and sex education. Research to date has predominantly focussed upon age and socio-cultural predictors of sexual debut, thus failing to explain how young people themselves conceptualise their readiness for sexual relations. Synthesised in this review is the evidence from 26 studies which included young people’s perspectives of their readiness to begin sexual intercourse, undertaken using either quantitative or qualitative methods. Available evidence suggests that young people may not view initiating sex as problematic, focusing instead on the rewards sex brings and less on health concerns. Gender differences emerged in conceptualisations of love, parenthood, respect and abuse within relationships and were further mediated by social class and ethnicity. Age was also significant in young people’s accounts. Those under 16 years may not be ‘sexually ready’ because their own retrospective analyses suggest they experienced difficulty negotiating their risk of coercion or exploitation. More research exploring more deeply young people’s understandings of sexual readiness is required. We recommend a rights-based approach to support young people’s participation in the research process and to include their voices in the development of relevant sex education and services.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jun 2015
EventAnnual Doctoral Conference in Education - University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 05 Jun 2015 → …


ConferenceAnnual Doctoral Conference in Education
Period05/06/2015 → …


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