The Role of Parents in Early Adolescent Sexual Risk-Taking Behavior

Cheryl L. Somers*, Wafa F. Ali
Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA

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© 2011 Somers and Ali.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Correspondence: Address correspondence to this author at the 345 College of Education, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA; Tel: 313-577-1670; Fax: 313-577-5235; E-mail:


The primary purpose of this study was to better understand the role of parents in early adolescents' sexual attitudes and behavior, as parents are ecologically an important proximal factor. Predictor variables included were mother and father approval of premarital sex, parent-adolescent communication about sexuality, and parental social support. Religiosity was also included. The participants were 194, male (n=89) and female (n=105) students in the 7th and 8th grades (ages 12-15, mean=13.24), primarily African-American and Mexican-American and of lower socioeconomic status, from two middle schools in an urban school district of a large city in the Midwest of the U.S.A.. Variance in most criterion variables was significantly explained by various combinations of these parenting variables. However, none of these parenting variables predicted adolescents' intentions to avoid pregnancy, plans sexual intercourse debut, or plans for continuing sexual intercourse if already started (n=34). Contributions to existing literature, as well as implications for prevention and intervention, are discussed.

Keywords: Parenting, adolescence, risk taking, sexuality.