Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Duane McBride

Second Advisor

Jerome D. Thayer

Third Advisor

Kiti Freier-Randall

Abstract

Problem: Sexually active youth across the Anglophone/Latin Caribbean have been identified as among the most-at-risk for HIV infection. Studies conducted in the United States have identified parental and religiosity factors associated with adolescent sexual risk-taking, but these relationships remain largely unexplored in the Caribbean region.

Method: This cross-sectional study, based on survey data generated by the Seventh-day Adventist Caribbean Youth Survey, investigated the relationship between parental and adolescent religiosity factors and sexual at-risk behaviors reported by adolescents ages 16-18 years attending Seventh-day Adventist Church-operated secondary schools across the region. Pearson correlations and multiple regression analyses were used to assess the significance and strength of these factors as predictors of adolescent sexual risk-taking, alone and together as a set of predictors. Predetermined criteria for statistical significance and explanatory power were used to evaluate the usefulness of each predictor in prediction model-building for specific sexual at-risk behaviors.

Results: Five predictors achieved statistical significance in relation to one or more sexual at-risk behaviors and met established levels of predictive strength required for inclusion in a prediction model. Parental monitoring was the most consistent overall predictor of adolescent sexual risk-taking, and parental disapproval of adolescent sex the strongest, contributing 22% to explained variance in a prediction model for recent sexualpartnering. The increased presence of all these predictors was consistently related to reduced levels of sexual risk-taking. The other five predictors investigated did not demonstrate sufficient explanatory power to be considered useful as model components.

The prediction model for number of sexual partners in the last three months, comprised of parental disapproval of adolescent sex, parental monitoring, and importance ascribed to religion, was the strongest, explaining 39% of the variance. The prediction model for sexual experience, comprised of parental disapproval of adolescent sex,parental monitoring, and SDA Church affiliation, explained 25% of the variance. The model for predicting lifetime number of sexual partners, explaining 17% of the variance, included parental disapproval of adolescent sex,parental monitoring, and father connectedness. The prediction model for timing of sexual debut explained 6% of the variance and was comprised of father connectedness and parental monitoring.

Conclusions: Study findings are consistent with conclusions of other researchers that parental and adolescent religiosity factors are important predictors of adolescent sexual risk-taking in the Caribbean region. The prediction models developed here provide focus for efforts toward better protecting youth from life-altering consequences associated with adolescent sexual risk-taking. The predominance of parental monitoring and parental disapproval of adolescent sex as significant predictors across the spectrum of sexual at-risk behaviors suggests that appropriate behavioral control and the conveyance of life-affirming sexual values constitute essential parental skills. Study findings also draw attention to the importance of father connectedness, even as the region moves toward more positive engagement of fathers with their children. The unique contributions of both SDA Church affiliation and importance ascribed to religion suggest value in further investigation into the relationship between adolescent religiosity and sexual risk-taking.

Culturally sensitive programs and resources are needed to equip parents as primary agents in the sexualsocialization of youth. Such programs should concentrate on enhancing father connectedness and developing skills for effective monitoring, communication of life-affirming sexual values, and the spiritual nurture of adolescents. Longitudinal studies to determine causality, studies utilizing more sophisticated measures to further test the relationship between adolescent religiosity and sexual at-risk behavior, and studies exploring the etiology of adolescent condom use constitute priorities for future research.

Subject Area

Youth--Sexual behavior--Caribbean Area, Seventh-day Adventist youth--Caribbean Area, Parental influences, Parent and child

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