COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

The effects of family structure, parent-child relationship and parental monitoring on early sexual behaviour among adolescents in nine European countries

Ilona Lenciauskiene, Apolinaras Zaborskis
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2008, 36 (6): 607-18
18775817

AIMS: To identify the influence of family structure, parent-child relationship and parental monitoring on adolescents' involvement in early sexual behaviour.

METHODS: The study was undertaken in the context of the World Health Organization collaborative Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study. The representative samples were drawn from 10 European countries. A group of 14,287 (6716 boys and 7571 girls) 15-year-olds was surveyed. The data were collected by standardized questionnaires. Adolescents were asked about sexual behaviour, family structure, parent-child communication, and parental control. A logistic regression analysis was applied to assess the impact of determinants.

RESULTS: Greenlandic adolescents were predominantly engaged in early sexual behaviour. Intact family was a key protective factor for adolescents' early sexual behaviour. It significantly decreased both boys' and girls' involvement in early sexual behaviour. Close parent-adolescent relationships and a high level of parental monitoring were found to be less protective factors than family structure. Easy communication with parents, especially with the mother, was more significant for girls' than for boys' early sexual behaviour. A low level of maternal monitoring had a higher impact on boys' early sexual behaviour, while a low level of paternal monitoring had a higher impact on girls. For both maternal and paternal monitoring, the strongest relationship was observed among Hungarian adolescents, but among Greenlanders it was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: Many 15-year-olds in European countries are engaged in early sexual behaviour. A close parent- child relationship and a high level of parental monitoring are not as important for adolescents' early sexual behaviour as an intact family.

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