178334 "It takes a village": The role of African American social networks in adolescent sex education and parental monitoring

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 10:30 AM

Anne E. George, MPH , Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD, MSc , TraCS Community Engagement Core, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Galen Switzer, PhD , Center for Research on Health Care, Pittsburgh, PA
Willa Doswell, FAAN, PhD , Department of Health Promotion & Management, School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Melanie A. Gold, DO , Deparment of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Aletha Akers, MD, MPH , Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Magee-Womens Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: Parental sex communication and parental monitoring are associated with reduced adverse adolescent sexual health outcomes. Little is known about cultural nuances of these parenting skills within the African American community. Objective: To examine the process, barriers and facilitators of parental sex communication and parental monitoring as part of a larger study to develop a parent-targeted intervention to improve these parenting skills. Methods: We conducted 16 focus groups between December 2007- April 2008 with African American parents from Allegheny County Pennsylvania and their adolescents aged 15-17. Participants were recruited through community organizations, health centers and media advertisements. We used a directed approach to content analysis. Results: Parents felt community monitoring of children occurs less than when they were children. Parents expressed the need for more communication between parents and members of their social networks regarding the monitoring of their adolescents. Mothers often act as confidants for their children's friends but struggle over whether to disclose information revealed during these discussions to another child's parents. Fathers advise and role model expected social and sexual behaviors to their children and their friends informally as the children are hanging out. Conclusions: African American parents feel their communities and social networks could play a greater role in monitoring children's social and sexual development. Parent-targeted interventions should be tailored to address the different styles mothers and fathers use to communicate with and monitor their children.

Learning Objectives:
1) List the ways African American parents are monitoring their adolescentsí sexual behavior. 2) Discuss the importance of community monitoring in the African American community. 3) Analyze the possible effects of parents placing part of the responsibility for the sexual education of their children on other adults in the community.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked first hand on the research data collection and analysis for the Teach Your Children Well Study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.