Adolescent Girls’ Assessment and Management of Sexual Risks: Insights from Focus Group Researchedit
We conducted focus groups with girls ages 14 to 17 (N = 43) in order to study how the dominant discourse of sexual risk shapes young women’s understanding of the sexual domain and their management of these presumably pervasive threats. Through inductive analysis, we developed a coding scheme focused on three themes: (a) types of sexual risk; (b) factors that moderate sexual risk; and (c) strategies for managing sexual risk. Collectively, participants identified many risks but distanced themselves from these by claiming that girls’ susceptibility is largely a function of personal factors and therefore avoidable given the right traits, values, and skills. We consider this reliance on other-blaming and self-exemption, as well as instances in which individual participants diverged from this group discourse, in the context of neoliberalism.