What puts "at-risk girls" at risk? Sexual vulnerability and social inequality in the lives of girls in the child welfare system Article

Bay-Cheng, LY, Fava, NM. (2014). What puts "at-risk girls" at risk? Sexual vulnerability and social inequality in the lives of girls in the child welfare system . 11(2), 116-125. 10.1007/s13178-013-0142-5

cited authors

  • Bay-Cheng, LY; Fava, NM

fiu authors

abstract

  • Many studies document the susceptibility of adolescent girls in the child welfare system to negative sexual experiences (e.g.; James et al. 2009). However, this body of research tends to frame sexual risk in individualized, deficit-focused terms that overlook contextual factors and girls' sexual agency (Harris 2004; Kelly 2001). We analyzed the sexual history narratives of adolescent girls in residential treatment using theoretical and inductive thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006) to gain a more thorough understanding of their sexual risks and sexual agency. Participants described advocating for their sexual interests but with variable success. Upon examination of occasions when agency did not produce intended results, we observed participants' vulnerability to be linked to their broader social, material, and relational circumstances, not necessarily to intrinsic deficits such as a lack of sexual assertiveness. Results highlight how girls' sexual experiences are influenced by the contexts in which they are embedded. This more holistic view indicates that sexual health promotion efforts should not only address individual factors related to sexuality but also must bolster the social and material resources of girls in the child welfare system. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 116

end page

  • 125

volume

  • 11

issue

  • 2