Child & Youth Care Forum

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 133–150 | Cite as

Contextualizing Relationship Education and Adolescent Attitude Toward Sexual Behavior: Considering Class Climate

  • Sandra U. Morrison
  • Francesca Adler-Baeder
  • Kristen L. Bub
  • Adrienne Duke
Original Paper



Using data from a statewide relationship education (RE) program targeting a diverse adolescent sample, this study examined RE implementation in classroom environments.


The purpose of this study was to explore (1) whether there is a beneficial RE program effect for change in individual attitudes toward sexual delay, (2) whether individual factors—student gender and sexual activity—predict change in attitudes toward sexual delay for students experiencing the intervention, and (3) whether classmate characteristics influence individual change in attitudes toward sexual delay.


This study utilized multilevel modeling procedures to examine both individual- and classroom-level predictors of change in attitudes toward sexual delay.


At the individual level, results indicated that females demonstrated more change in attitudes toward sexual delay than males and students who were sexually active demonstrated less change toward sexual delay compared with students who were not sexually active. At the classroom level, both racial composition and the proportion of sexually active classmates influenced individual attitude change. Although students in classrooms with higher proportions of African American peers demonstrated less attitude change toward sexual delay, the proportion of sexually active peers in the classroom appeared to be a more salient aspect of classmate composition.


Overall, this study supports the importance of considering both individual characteristics as well as social context when assessing program experience and effectiveness. Implications for future research and practice are offered.


Adolescent sexual risk Classroom social climate Intervention context Relationship education 



Dr. Adler-Baeder has received research grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (90FE0001).

Author Contributions

Dr. Adler-Baeder, as the PI on the project, takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and all co-authors take responsibility for the accuracy of the data analysis.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Auburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.University of Illinois, Urbana–ChampaignChampaignUSA

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