Factors Associated with Gender Differences in Parent-Adolescent Relationships That Delay First Intercourse in Japan

Article excerpt

An important and complex area of adolescent behavioral health is sexuality. Sexual behaviors vary within and between ages, gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religious groups. (1) In Japan, induced abortions for girls younger than 20 years have more than doubled to 40,475 in 2003 from the total of 19,048 in 1980. (2) There are also such serious adolescent problems as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). (3)

During the past decade of research on teenagers' sexual behavior and pregnancies in the United States, some sexual education programs at schools and homes have been shown to delay or reduce sexual behaviors or increase condom use. (4,5) Parent-adolescent processes in the home for sexual behavior have been the focus of research in the United States for the past decade. Adolescent sexual behavior seems to be related to parental factors, including communication, values, monitoring, control (vs autonomy), and warmth/support. (1) Parents are essential for the healthy development of adolescents. However, there have been few reports investigating the parent-adolescent relationship that influences adolescent sexual behavior of Japanese youths based, in part, on the reluctance of individuals to discuss sexual issues.

High-quality parent-adolescent communication has been related to abstinence from adolescent sexual activity and to less frequent sex for adolescent males. (6) In Japanese high school students, females' experience in sexual intercourse has been related to the parent-child relationship. (7) A study concerning the frequency of parent-child communication in Japan found that more general communication between a parent and an adolescent up to 16 years of age was associated with delayed first intercourse. (8) There needs to be an examination of the quality of parent-adolescent communication associated with adolescent sexual behavior in Japan.

The more frequently mothers talked to adolescent males about birth control, the more consistently they used birth control measures. (9) On the other hand, the more frequently parent-adolescent communication about sexual matters occurred, including love, sex, contraception, and STDs before the adolescent reached 16 years of age, the earlier were the incidents of first intercourse in Japan. (8) This meant there was a negative relationship between the adolescents' sexual behavior and the frequency of communication with parents about sexual matters. This study did not examine sexual behaviors and gender differences. There needs to be a clarification of gender differences in parent-adolescent sexual communication regarding delaying first intercourse in Japanese adolescents.

Parental values regarding teenage sexual behaviors have correlated with adolescent's sexual behaviors. There is a relationship in the United States between the parental disapproval of an adolescent's sexual behavior and the adolescents' first sexual experience, the tendency to have fewer sex partners, less frequent sexual activity, and decreased teen pregnancy. (6,9)

The levels of parental monitoring may influence an adolescent's sexual behavior. The strength of parental monitoring in the United States has been associated with a delay in the age of first intercourse. (10) One study showed that black adolescent males who were unsupervised for more than 5 hours per week after school were twice as likely to have gonorrhea or STD as boys who were unsupervised for 5 hours or less. (11) The relationship between parental monitoring and sexual behavior has not yet been clarified in Japan.

The levels of psychological control may influence adolescent sexual behavior. Adolescent females in the United States who feel psychologically controlled because of high levels of maternal guilt were more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors. (12) There needs to be an examination of the levels of psychological control in Japan. …