Teenagers and young adults need access to medically accurate, age-appropriate information about sex and relationships. They also need the support of caring adults. Meeting these needs is key not only to their individual physical and emotional wellbeing, but also to advancing gender equality and building a world where everyone has the power to shape the trajectory of their lives.
Senior Research Scientist Jennifer Grossman is investigating who teens talk to about sex and what they are talking about -- and what effect those conversations have on teens’ decision-making down the road about sex and relationships. Grossman’s research has resulted in unique and groundbreaking findings: She found that fathers have an important role to play in their teens’ sexual health, and that teens often talk about sex and relationships with their extended families as well as with their parents. Her work has been funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.
Transforming her research into action, Grossman co-directed an evaluation of Planned Parenthood’s comprehensive middle school sex education program, which resulted in its designation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an evidence-based program eligible for federal funding. She also shares her work widely with families, educators, policymakers, and the media, ensuring a growing understanding of how families and schools can best support adolescents’ sexual health and overall wellbeing.
These are some of the grant-funded projects that advance our family, sexuality, and communication research initiative:
- Adolescent Communication with Family and Reproductive Health
- Communication about sex in the nuclear family and beyond: Implications for health interventions
- Risk Behaviors among Offspring of Teen Parents: Effects of parenting on the next generation
- Father-adolescent communication and adolescent reproductive health