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J Relig Health. 2014 Aug;53(4):959-71. doi: 10.1007/s10943-013-9689-y.

Perceptions of parents on how religion influences adolescents' sexual behaviours in two Ghanaian communities: implications for HIV and AIDS prevention.

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Department of Psychology, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana,


To understand the role of religion in the sexual behaviours of adolescents, the views of parents who are key agents of socialization were examined from two south-eastern communities in Ghana. Focus Group interviews were conducted with mothers (and female caregivers) of adolescents and one with fathers (and male caregivers) of adolescents. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Findings indicated that parents from one community perceived religion as playing a double-edged role in adolescents' sexual behaviours as on one hand it played a protective role by restraining adolescents from risky sexual behaviours; on the other hand it disparaged the existing traditional measures that regulated adolescents' sexual behaviour. However, parents from the other community found a collaborative interface between the existing social control measures-communal socialization and proscriptive morality with religious ethics. Religious socialization, social capital theory and the concept of social suffering are used to explain some of the findings of this study. Implications for HIV and AIDS education and prevention are also discussed.

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