Family Homework and School-Based Sex Education: Delaying Early Adolescents' Sexual Behavior

Year: 2013

Authors: Grossman, J. M., Frye, A., Charmaraman, L., & Erkut, S.

Source: Journal of School Health, 83(11), 810-817

Abstract: Early sexual activity can undermine adolescents' future school success and health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to assess the role of a family homework component of a comprehensive sex education intervention in delaying sexual initiation for early adolescents and to explore what social and contextual factors prevent adolescents from completing these family homework activities. This mixed methods study included 6th- and 7th-grade survey responses from 706 students at 11 middle school schools receiving a sex education intervention, as well as interviews from a subset of 33, 7th-grade students from the larger sample. Adolescents who completed more family homework assignments were less likely to have vaginal intercourse in 7th grade than those who completed fewer assignments, after controlling for self-reports of having had vaginal intercourse in 6th grade and demographic variables. Participants' explanations for not completing assignments included personal, curriculum, and family-based reasons.
Family homework activities designed to increase family communication about sexual issues can delay sex among early adolescents and contribute to school-based sex education programs. Successful sex education programs must identify and address barriers to family homework completion.

DOI: 10.1111/josh.12098