A study conducted in the U.S. has revealed that fathers generally respond by increasing their efforts to supervise and monitor their teen children when they engage in risky sexual activity.
Conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University, the study followed more than 3,200 teenagers ages 13 to 18 over a period of four years.
The researchers revealed that the teens involved in the study were a subset of participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a representative sample of American adolescents.
They said that the subjects reported on their parents' knowledge of their activities, friends, and so forth every year.
The subjects also told the researchers about their engagements in risky sexual activities-such as frequency of intercourse, number of partners, and incidences of unprotected intercourse.
The research team observed that the responses of fathers to their children's sexual behavior tended to be different from those of mothers.
They say that their findings contrast previous findings that parents often become less involved when teens engage in risky sexual behavior.
Referring to their findings, the researchers said that fathers instead boosted their involvement-learning more about their children's friends and activities-when their teenaged children engaged in risky sexual activity.
The researchers also found that involvement in family activities acts as a protective force. They observed that teens who took part in routine family activities-like eating meals together or joining in fun projects-were less likely to engage in risky sexual activity, and teens who didn't engage in risky sexual behavior were more likely to participate in family activities.
"This research highlights the complex interplay of relationships between parents and their adolescent children," said Rebekah Levine Coley, associate professor of applied developmental and educational psychology at Boston College and the study's lead author.
"Given the notably negative potential repercussions of risky sexual activity during adolescence, this study can inform efforts to increase parents' oversight of and active engagement with their teenage children," Coley added.
The study has been reported in the journal Child Development.
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