This research study looked at whether parenting during mid-adolescence affects sexual risk behaviors (frequency of intercourse, unprotected intercourse, and number of sexual partners) during late adolescence.
The researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), an annual survey study of youth in America born between 1980 and 1984. The original sample consisted of a nationally representative group of 8984 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 years. The researchers performed follow-up phone calls for the following six years.
Results from this study showed that “more negative and psychologically controlling parenting during mid-adolescence predicted higher levels of sexual risk behaviors (such as multiple partners, more frequent intercourse, and lack of effective birth control) during late adolescence. Negative and psychologically controlling parenting behaviors may inhibit adolescents’ development of self-efficacy and identity, interfere with mature and responsible decision-making skills, and affect the development of healthy relationships, in turn leading to an elevated likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors”
The researchers were also interested in whether adolescents’ engagement in regular activities with their families was protective and their results showed that “even within families, differences in adolescents’ participation in family activities were prospectively linked to differences in risky sexual behaviors.”
The results from this study suggest that parenting and family processes may influence adolescent risky sexual behaviors. Regular family activities may buffer adolescents, while negative parenting behaviors may increase adolescents’ engagement in sexual risk behaviors.
Coley, R. L., Mendeiros, B. L. and Schindler, H.S. Using Sibling Differences to Estimate Effects of Parenting on Adolescent Sexual Risk Behaviors. 2008. Journal of Adolescent Health. 43:2. 133-140.