Mother-Child Relationships and Adolescent Sexual Activity: Exploring Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Differences

Amanda T. Berger, University of Maryland
Sandra Hofferth, University of Maryland

Early sexual activity varies across gender and racial/ethnic groups. Although mother-child relationships affect adolescent sexual activity, little research has examined how this association differs by race/ethnicity and gender. Using longitudinal data from Waves I and II of The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, analyses explored the association of mother-child closeness and negative maternal reactions to sex with sexual initiation across population subgroups. Adjusted results indicated that adolescents’ perception of negative maternal reactions to sex was associated with a decreased likelihood of sexual initiation. Subpopulation analyses indicate that this association works similarly for boys and girls, but the effect is stronger among girls and only significant among white girls. Results also indicated that mother-child closeness operates differently among black girls than among other subpopulations; within this group, mother-child closeness was associated with an increased likelihood of initiating sex.

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Presented in Session 150: Parental Influences on Adolescent Sexual Behavior