Teenagers who live in households where they have set rules to follow and whose parents keep tabs on them may be more cautious about sex, a new analysis suggests.
Researchers from the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work combined and analyzed the results of 30 studies from around the world. The studies, completed from 1984 to 2014, analyzed the effects of parental activities on children’s behavior. Specifically, researchers looked at the effects of keeping tabs on teenagers and setting rules for them. The goal of the studies was to see whether the kids of more watchful parents were more likely to skip sexual activity — defined in different ways — or use birth control.
Kids whose parents set rules and who monitored them more by knowing what they were doing and who they were with, had sexual intercourse later in life, the researchers found. Those whose parents monitored them were also more likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control.
“When kids are sexually active, it’s less about setting clear rules and more about having a better relationship and better communication,” said said report co-author Vincent Guilamo-Ramos. “Parents really matter, and they’re influential,” .
The researchers cautioned that their study doesn’t definitively prove that making rules for teens and monitoring them more will cut down on sexual behavior, as other factors could have also played a role.
Statistics suggest that hundreds of thousands of U.S. teens become pregnant each year, and more than 75% of the pregnancies are unplanned. Sexually transmitted disease like HIV is another risk for teens and young adults. In fact, research shows that in 2012, people aged 20 to 24 had the highest rate of new infections with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.