The unintended consequences of sex education: an ethnography of a development intervention in Latin America

Erica Nelson, Alexander Edmonds, Marco Ballesteros, Diana Encalada Soto, Octavio Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper is an ethnography of a four-year, multi-disciplinary adolescent sexual and reproductive health intervention in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador. An important goal of the intervention – and of the larger global field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health – is to create more open parent-to-teen communication. This paper analyzes the project's efforts to foster such communication and how social actors variously interpreted, responded to, and repurposed the intervention's language and practices. While the intervention emphasized the goal of ‘open communication,’ its participants more often used the term ‘confianza’ (trust). This norm was defined in ways that might – or might not – include revealing information about sexual activity. Questioning public health assumptions about parent–teen communication on sex, in and of itself, is key to healthy sexual behavior, the paper explores a pragmatics of communication on sex that includes silence, implied expectations, gendered conflicts, and temporally delayed knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-201
JournalAnthropology and Medicine
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2014

Keywords

  • adolescent sexual and reproductive health
  • parent–adolescent communication
  • open communication
  • anthropology of development
  • Latin America

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The unintended consequences of sex education: an ethnography of a development intervention in Latin America'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this