A look at parent-adolescent processes and adolescent sexual intentions among urban, minority, middle school youth
Background. The United States continues to have the highest rates in teenage pregnancy among industrialized nations and approximately 46% of high school students engaged in sex by the time they graduated. Various family adolescent processes (family connectedness, perceived parental beliefs about sex, parent-child communication about sex) have been linked to adolescent sexual behavior. However, the association between family adolescent and adolescent sexual intentions has not often been studied in middle school minority youth.
Methods. Research hypotheses were tested using a secondary data analysis from a HIV, STI, and pregnancy prevention program for urban middle school students.
Results. At baseline, 77% of students reported low intentions to engage in vaginal or oral sex within a year and 87% reported they would use a condom if having sex within the next 3 months. After adjusting for gender, age, and race/ethnicity, family connectedness and perceived parental beliefs about sex were significantly associated with vaginal and oral sex intentions. Only perceived parental beliefs was associated with condom use intentions.
Conclusions. Family adolescent processes appear to be associated with adolescents’ intentions regarding sex and condom use. Early interventions are needed that take into account the importance of healthy, supportive parent-adolescent relationships and encourage parents to share their beliefs about sex to adolescents before the onset of sexual activity.