Study Links Sexual Activity to Family Structure
Special Report - December 15, 2008
Living with two biological parents is one of the best means of preventing adolescent sexual activity, according to a Heritage Foundation paper. The Heritage review found that family structure impacted sexual initiation, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, likelihood of contraceptive use, contraction of STDs, and pregnancy in adolescents. Adolescents from intact families tended to delay sexual initiation until significantly older ages than their counterparts from non-intact families. According to the review, “the strong relationship between family structure and adolescent sexual debut explains most of the relationship between family structure and other sexual outcomes.” Sexual debut is highly correlated to the level of risky sexual activity in which adolescents engage, based on the body of research reviewed.
Over 180 research articles were reviewed for Samuel W. Sturgeon’s paper, The Relationship Between Family Structure and Adolescent Sexual Activity, which examined the relationship between family structure and adolescent sexual activity. Sturgeon compared the sexual behaviors of adolescents from intact families of two biological parents with those of adolescents from non-intact families.
Because early sexual initiation increases the risk of so many negative outcomes associated with sexual activity, the role of family structure in delaying sexual debut is important to note. The review argues that the data point to families, especially parents, as “one of the most powerful socializing influences on the sexual attitudes and behaviors of adolescents.” It concluded “that children who grow up with two biological parents are more likely to avoid the negative outcomes associated with teen sexual activity.”
“Research continues to demonstrate that families with a father and a mother are better environments for children to thrive,” said Matt Lytle, director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “In recent months, a number of studies have shown the clear relationship between family structure and the well-being of children in areas as diverse as sexual activity, school performance, violence, and shoplifting with the Mapping America Project of the Family Research Council as one notable example.” He concluded, “this new report adds to the already overwhelming evidence that the traditional family benefits future generations and is worth protecting.
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.