Parent-child sexual health communication has been shown to protect against adolescent sexual risk-taking behavior. Parent knowledge of adolescent sexual experience can inform timing and content of conversations; however, little is known about factors associated with such knowledge. To investigate this question, parent-child dyads (N = 942) from a U.S. nationally-representative internet panel were surveyed in June 2012. Agreement between adolescent report of vaginal sex and parent's knowledge of such behavior was assessed. Multivariate regression was used to assess predictors of accurate parental knowledge of adolescent sex. Most parents (87%) reported knowledge of their adolescents’ sexual experience. Parents with accurate knowledge of adolescent sexual experience were more likely to report at least one prior conversation with their child about sexual health (OR 2.35), have a daughter (OR 1.88), and have a child who expressed comfort discussing sexual health (OR 1.71). Results indicate that parental knowledge of adolescent sexual experience reflects more comfortable parent-child sexual health communication. Developing tools to improve adolescent comfort discussing sexuality may improve parent-child conversations about sexuality, contributing to efforts to increase safer sex practices among adolescents.
Potter, J., Soren, K., & Santelli, J. (2017). Predictors of parental knowledge of adolescent sexual experience: United States, 2012. Preventive Medicine Reports, 6, 94–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2017.02.020