Wrap It Before You Tap It
by Sgass2 on March 14, 2014 - 10:44am
Wrap It Before You Tap It
“Did you hear about Colin and Kara hooking up last night at the hockey house?!”
“I know! Can you believe that? Wasn’t he just with Rachel last weekend?”
Have you ever been the subject of these rumors flying around campus? Whether your answer is a yes or a no, it’s clear that we’ve all heard about the latest hook ups at some point or another. As a first year college student myself, I’ve been exposed to these same new found freedoms and the risk of explicit sexual temptation. As a young girl going out to bars, clubs, and parties for the first time it’s easy to be swayed into situations where sexual contact can easily be made. However, this very phenomenon has brought my attention to the serious risk of STI’s on college campuses. Many students become caught up in the excitement and fun of new experiences and often forget to notice the negative consequences that come along with unprotected sexual encounters. Iowa State University took on this very problem in 2009 using the Health Benefit Model to get word out to students. Their research was conducted on a sample of 71 students in the Introduction to Sociology course offered at the college. These students were then part of a four step interview process discussing their most recent “hook ups” or “relationship free” sexual encounters. These interviews were comprised of four parts, 1) assessing students perceptions of sex and dating norms on campus and what they throughout their peers and friends believed about pros, cons, and acceptability of hooking up, 2) events that occurred during students most recent hook up, 3) assessing their evaluations of their experience as a whole, and 4) to access students perceptions of sexual risk taking in hooking with respects to STI’s (Downing-Matibag & Geisinger, 2009). This research design, the personal interview, allows the interviewer to make personal connections with the students rather than surveying which is often very impersonal which leads to dishonesty because students feel no obligation to tell the truth. However, a one on one interview students can become comfortable with the interviewer and be probed to open and share their true feelings in regards to their hook up. With this goal in mind researchers major findings focused on students lack of efficacy in carrying out proper protection techniques. It was noted that 85% of students had knowledge of proper protection but were either too carried away by the moment, trusted their partner, or were under the influence of alcohol which, in turn, swayed them away from using protection. These findings make a very clear conclusion; students need to be exposed to more stories about the effects of STI’s on people in their peer group. The research team at Iowa University believes this will make students believe the risks and through hearing these stories will finally grasp the seriousness of STI’s and the reality that they are at huge risk for contracting them.
With these conclusions in mind after reading through the study I was stunned by the seriousness of this ongoing problem on college campuses. Entering college this year as a freshmen I’ve been exposed to this topic through a number of outlets, however, the Health Belief Model took a far more personal and relatable approach. What caught my eye most in their research were its implications. Through sitting down with students it was evident that most were aware of proper forms of protection but failed in their efficacy to carry out these precautions. The first was expanding access to condoms on college campuses. Their evidence shows that with more access to condoms it will eliminate unpreparedness for spontaneous sexual experiences. I’ve always been a proponent for easy access to condoms on campus and believe with this alone will halt the spread of STI’s because students won’t have to be embarrassed about buying condoms from convenience stores or asking friends to borrow some but instead will have easy, non-intimating access. Second, research shows students are unaware of the seriousness of health consequences related to STI’s. Therefore, studies show interviews like the ones carried out here are essential to educating students about how relative STI’s are to their own lives. I was inspired by this implication because I feel it’s vital for students who have been affected by STI’s to share their stories to help others from falling into these same harsh realities. I think these students sharing these stories can help them in recovering by making them less embarrassed about contracting STI’s if their story can be used to help others. The final implication is that students should not blindly trust partners. It was evident that many students didn’t use protection simply because they grew up with their partner or trusted they would tell them if they had STI’s. This thinking is flawed. Partners are not as open about this subject as some may hope and blindly trusting partners that are essentially strangers is dangerous. I was moved by this because being a young girl I can see how easy it can be to trust friends and peers. With these implications in mind and interviews like the ones conducted here, I believe the word can and will be spread around college campuses about the seriousness of STI’s. The implications of this research hopefully can put a halt to the rapid spread of these diseases and save millions of students each year from falling victim to STI’s.
Downing-Matibag, T., & Geisinger, B. (2009). Hooking up and sexual risk taking among college students: A health belief model perspective. Sage Publications, 19(9), 1196-1209.