Accidental and Intentional Influences of Family, Peers, and the Media

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

Department of Elementary Education


In this paper, we examine the ways that early adolescents talked, interacted, and made references to events in their individual and collective lives during photography-based focus groups about sexuality and relationships. Twenty-three participants (10 boys and 13 girls) were recruited from three urban schools participating in a comprehensive sex education impact evaluation in the Northeast. We analyzed conversational narratives that were elicited in a group process while sharing photos of important people, contexts, and situations, showcasing participants' exploration of sexuality and relationships. Our analysis revealed four main themes: (a) Direct and indirect family communication about sexuality, (b) Accidental and intentional Internet usage, (c) Shared and contested peer knowledge, and (d) School as a direct and indirect learning context. Implications and future directions for practice, research, and policy are explored.