An investigation of the relationships among perceptions of parenting, level of self -control, and sexual outcomes for adolescents

Michelle Renee Rainey, Purdue University

Abstract

Adolescent sexual behavior is at the forefront of social science research because it is central to a number of social and medical issues. Sexually transmitted diseases, just one of the problems associated with adolescent sexuality, are recognized as a major public health problem and deserve attention because of their high prevalence and their serious consequences for adolescents. The primary objectives of this study are: (1) to identify the associations among gender, age, race and adolescent perceptions of parental warmth and parental control, (2) to identify the relationships between adolescent perceptions of parental warmth and parental control and adolescent level of self-control, (3) to identify the relationship between level of adolescent self-control and risk-taking behavior, and finally (4) to identify the relationship between risk-taking behavior and adolescent perceptions of risk for STDs. It is hypothesized that adolescent perceptions of parental warmth and parental control influence adolescent level of self-control, that level of self-control influences engagement in risk-taking behavior, and that risk-taking behavior influences whether or not adolescents feel they are at risk for acquiring STDs. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this study employs structural equation modeling using LISREL. The findings of this study demonstrated that adolescent perceptions of parental warmth and parental control influence adolescent levels of self-control. Results also showed that adolescent level of self-control influences engagement in risk-taking behavior, and that engagement in risk-taking behavior influences the extent to which adolescents perceive they are at risk for acquiring STDs. This study frames adolescent sexuality uniquely by examining parenting practices and adolescent levels of self-control as related to Gottfredson and Hirschi's self-control theory (1990). Using this innovative approach to research adolescent sexuality has many practical implications, and the results of this study are relevant for policy makers, secondary educators, counselors, sex educators, pediatricians, and of course, parents. ^

Degree

Ph.D.

Advisors

Major Professor: James G. Anderson, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Public Health|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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