The Role of the Family Environment in Adolescent Sexual Activity in Four African Countries

Kofi Awusabo-Asare, University of Cape Coast

This paper examines the association of family environment (co-residence with parents/parent-figures, parental monitoring and communication about sex-related matters) with recent sexual activity of unmarried adolescents. Analyses are based on unique data from nationally-representative surveys with 12-19 year olds conducted in 2004 in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Malawi and Uganda. Unmarried adolescents report high levels of parental monitoring in contrast to parental communication. Multivariate analyses show a significant negative association between parental monitoring—especially how often parents know where their children go at night—and the likelihood of being sexually-active across countries and for both female and male adolescents. Co-residence with two parents (versus none) lowered the likelihood of recent sexual activity and parental communication had a positive association, but effects were not consistent across countries or sexes. Results suggest that the family environment has a positive influence on the sexual health of unmarried adolescents via parental monitoring.

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Presented in Poster Session 1