Research Paper

A comparison of peer and non-peer exposure to unwanted early sexual experiences among students in South Africa and Belgium

  • Arlynn T Revell
  • Lionel J Nicholas


Objective: This study examined peer and non-peer unwanted early sexual experiences (UESE) among 3,689 university students to establish whether peer UESE is as coercive and bothersome as non-peer UESE.
Method: A self-report checklist was administered to all consenting students attending an orientation programme at one South African (SA) and one Belgian university.
Results: Of the respondents 21% indicated that they had UESE before their 16th birthday (39.2% SA and 13.5% Belgians). Of respondents indicating UESE, 22.4% (173) reported that they had UESE with a person where the age difference was greater than 5 years and 54.2% (418) reported UESE with an age difference less than 5 years. Overall, a statistically significant difference was found between peer exposed and non-peer exposed groups at the time the UESE occurred related to bothersomeness of the UESE. SA men and women experienced more psychological pressure or physical force among the non-peer exposed group than the peer exposed group.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2013, 25(2): 149–159

Author Biographies

Arlynn T Revell
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health, Institute for Family and Sexuality Studies, Catholic University Leuven, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
Lionel J Nicholas
School of Health Sciences, Department of Psychology, Roodepoort, Monash South Africa, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1728-0591
print ISSN: 1728-0583