200957 Parent-Child Communication about Abstinence and Safer Sex: The Experience of Parochial School Parents

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 10:45 AM

Julie A. Cederbaum, PhD, MSW, MPH , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
M. Katherine Hutchinson, PhD, RN , College of Nursing, New York University, New York, NY
Background: Family processes including parent-teen sexual risk communication (PTSRC) have been associated with more positive sexual attitudes and less sexual risk-taking among adolescents. Parental religiosity and religious affiliation have had mixed associations with parent-teen sexual communication and adolescent sexual risk attitudes and behaviors. While abstinence communication may increase, sexual risk communication is often much lower.

Methods: Patterns of PTSRC were examined among parents of children attending Catholic parochial schools, using qualitative and quantitative methods. Three focus groups (N=52) and 140 surveys were completed by parents. Qualitative data were analyzed using narrative analysis; first order correlations among the quantitative data were assessed.

Results: Main themes from parent focus groups included parents' ability to “make a difference”; barriers to PTSRC (PTSRC comfort; fear that PTSRC would appear as condoning sex); and fear of being seen as hypocritical for promoting abstinence when they had engaged in premarital sex and/or experienced premarital pregnancy. From quantitative data, factors associated with less PTSRC included lower levels of education and Hispanic ethnicity. Greater PTRSC was positively associated with child age, general communication quality, and parent-child relationship.

Conclusions: Without in-school sex education, parents may be the only reliable source of sex education for children who attend parochial schools. Thus, it is important to tailor interventions for these families' specific needs. Interventions should include: identifying inter-generational family norms regarding PTSRC, providing parents with PTSRC practice opportunities, dispelling myths and concerns that communication about sex may result in increased activity, and establishing parenting plans and timelines for developmentally appropriate PTSRC.

Learning Objectives:
1. To highlight the sexual risk communication needs of parents of children attending parochial schools 2. To identify parents experiences with sexual communication with their children, including barriers to communication 3. To discuss implications for intervention with these families

Keywords: Communication, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Did data collection and analysis for MPH master's thesis
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.