Importantly, the association is between teens' perceptions of their parents' disapproval, not necessarily parents' actual views, and delayed initiation. Giordano, "Preadolescent Parenting Strategies and Teens' Dating and Sexual Initiation: A Longitudinal Analysis," Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 322–335; Kathleen Boyce Rodgers, "Parenting Processes Related to Sexual Risk-Taking Behaviors of Adolescent Males and Females," Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. This does not mean that parental values are unimportant.
Among women in their thirties, those who were sexually active during early adolescence are half as likely to be in stable marriages as those who waited until their early twenties to have sex. Early sexual activity is also linked to maternal poverty.
Parental factors that appear to offer strong protection against the onset of early sexual activity include an intact family structure; parents' disapproval of adolescent sex; teens' sense of belonging to and satisfaction with their families; parental monitoring; and, to a lesser extent, parent-child communication about teen sex and its consequences.
That parents play a role in teen sex points to at least two significant policy implications.
At the time of a large national survey in 1995, nearly 30 percent of mothers who began sexual activity at ages 13 or 14 lived in poverty compared to 12 percent of those who waited until their early twenties. Parental Influence and Teen Sex Many policymakers, health professionals, and "safe sex" advocates respond to these troubling statistics by demanding more comprehensive sex education and broader access to contraceptives for minors.
They assume that teens are unable to delay their sexual behavior and that a combination of information about and access to contraceptives will effectively lead to protected sex, preventing any form of harm to youngsters.
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At best, cross-sectional data offer evidence of correlations, e.g., parental disapproval of teen sex is associated with delayed sexual initiation. South, "Community Effects on Youth Sexual Activity," Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 540–554; Bersamin, Todd, Fisher et al., "Parenting Practices and Adolescent Sexual Behavior"; Sieving, Mc Neely, and Blum, "Maternal Expectations, Mother-Child Connectedness, and Adolescent Sexual Debut"; Ralph J. Wingood, Richard Crosby et al., "Parental Monitoring: Association with Adolescents' Risk Behavior," Pediatrics, Vol.