YOUNG PEOPLE AND TEACHERS' UNDERSTANDING OF REPRODUCTIVE COERCION IN ITALY AND IN UK - A REFLECTION ON SEX EDUCATION PROVISION.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Sch for Policy Studies

Abstract

TOPIC
My research will focus on the issue of reproductive coercion amongst young people (yp) in Italy
and in UK.

CONTEXT
Numerous studies (e.g. STIR: Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships, 2015, Briefing Paper 2)
reveal that schoolgirls are at high risk of sexual coercion (4 out of 10 schoolgirls report having
experienced sexual coercion), which is strongly linked with reproductive coercion as it might be
very difficult to negotiate contraception within a violent intimate relationship (Silverman et al,
2010 and Miller et al, 2010).
Blanc (2001) argues that reproductive coercion is especially linked with imbalance of power in
sexual relationships (e.g. rape), which is in turn linked to gender roles: as argued by Stark (2007), if
you are a girl/woman and you see motherhood as an inevitable part of your expected role in the
household, this affect your choices and the way you are treated by those around you.
The main consequences of reproductive coercion are sexually transmitted infections, unintended
pregnancies (together with low self-esteem and self-blame, as highlighted by Branscombe et al,
2003) and a negative impact on victims' subsequent romantic experiences (RI-victimization)
(Collibee and Furman, 2014 and Evans, 2000); the above issues also represent a significant cost for
the public health service (FPA-The Family Planning Association, 2013).
Considering that the development of 'romantic relationships' is an important milestone in
adolescence (Collibee and Furman, 2014) and that the majority of adolescents attend school, sex
education seems to be the best place to address the above issues, informing young people about
reproductive coercion and power dynamics (Hirst, 2010).

PROBLEMS ADDRESSED
However, sex education policies in Italy and in UK are arguably 'silent' (apart from the biology of
reproduction) (Beaumont and Maguire, 2013) and there is arguably lack of scholarly attention to
yp's understanding of reproductive coercion and to the link between reproductive coercion and
sex education; most of the research focus on the broader issues of sexual coercion and consent
(e.g. Powell, 2010; Beres, 2007 and 2014).

MY PROJECT
My large-scale research will investigate yp's (over 18) and teachers' (teachers should have an
understanding of it in order to teach it) understanding/experiences of reproductive coercion
across different high schools (In Italy, high schools are attended by pupils aged 14-19) and
universities in Italy and in UK, reflecting on the appropriateness of sex education provision.
Considering that many schoolgirls report having experienced sexual coercion (STIR, 2015, Briefing
paper 2) (strongly linked to reproductive coercion) and that this might have serious lifelong
consequences for victims, I hope that my research will inform educational policies (especially in
Italy, where there are no policies regulating sex education), services and the wider society, so that
yp will be able/empowered to enjoy a healthy and positive sexual life.

PROPOSED METHODS
As I am interested in yp's understanding of reproductive coercion, which is a rather sensitive
issue, I will use semi-structured interviews, which, as opposed to a structured interview, allows
flexibility: participants can ask for clarification and can expand their answers, steering the
interview towards the direction they prefer (Gray, 2014; Bryman, 2012).

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2220563 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2024 Rosalba Castiglione