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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999 Oct;153(10):1055-62.

Parental influence on adolescent sexual behavior in high-poverty settings.

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Center for Community Partnerships, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-3246, USA.



African American adolescents living in high-poverty urban settings are at increased risk for early sexual initiation and sexually transmitted diseases.


To determine whether parental strategies to monitor their children's social behavior and to communicate with them about sexual risks help to reduce the initiation of risky sexual behavior and prevent the resulting adverse health outcomes.


To assess the viability of these strategies, we surveyed a stratified cross-section of African American children aged 9 to 17 years (N = 355) living in urban public housing. Talking computers were used to increase the confidentiality and comparability of the interviews across the wide age range.


Children who reported high levels of parental monitoring were less likely to report initiating sex in pre-adolescence (aged < or = 10 years) and reported lower rates of sexual initiation as they aged. Children who reported receiving both greater monitoring and communication concerning sexual risks were also less likely to have engaged in anal sex. Communication was also positively related to the initiation of condom use and consistent condom use. The protective correlates of these parenting strategies were independent of the type of guardian (mother vs other family member).


Interventions with parents and other guardians to increase monitoring and communication about sexual risks seem to be promising health-promotion strategies for adolescents in high-risk settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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