A new longitudinal study finds that when adolescents engage in risky sexual activity, fathers respond by increasing their efforts to supervise and monitor their children.
Researchers at Boston College, the University of Pittsburgh, and Harvard University conducted the study, which appears in the May/June 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.
The study suggests that fathers react differently than mothers to their children's sexual behavior. When teens engaged in risky sexual behavior, instead of parents becoming less involved, as previously seen, fathers boosted their involvement, learning more about their children's friends and activities. This finding contradicts previous research, which has found that parents react with hostility and are less engaged following such discoveries.
This study also identified involvement in family activities as a protective force. Specifically, it found 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.