Preventing Risky Sex and Adolescent Parenthood: Does the Effectiveness of Parenting Practices Differ for Children with Varied Risks?

Kristin Moore, Child Trends
Kassim Mbwana, Child Trends

Large proportions of American adolescents engage in risky sex and become parents. Previous research has examined how parenting is related to adolescent sexual behavior and childbearing, but whether parenting practices interact with the risk levels faced by adolescent children has not been examined. We hypothesize that adolescents experiencing high levels of early risk will benefit more from positive parenting practices, including awareness/monitoring and authoritative parenting. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 Cohort, we examine four dependent variables: sex before age 17, sex with inconsistent birth control at age 17, number of partners at 17, and parenthood before age 18. Adolescent risks include early behavior problems, low grades, neighborhood risks, and having peers with behavior problems. Multivariate analyses, by gender, find main effects for parenting (except for births) and for risks but little evidence of interactions. We conclude that parenting matters for sexual behavior for all adolescents.

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Presented in Poster Session 5