Retrospective reports of parent-adolescent communication about sex education and issues related to sexuality in a sample of female university students.
Aim. The aim of this research was to explore parent-adolescent communication about sex and sexuality among university students. Background. The rates of HIV/AIDS and pregnancy among adolescents in South Africa are very problematic issues. In the context of children and adolescents' sexual socialization, both Western studies and studies from African countries have found that families, especially parents, are crucial in influencing adolescent attitudes, decision-making and participation in sexual behaviour. Methods. A qualitative study was conducted using focus groups to examine parent-adolescent sex education among university students. Findings. Participants reported that parents generally avoided discussions about sex especially fathers, framed sex negatively and highlighted the negative effects of sex such as HIV/AIDS and pregnancy. The reasons participants believed that parents were uncomfortable in discussing sex were due to insufficient knowledge to explain certain aspects of sex, that sex was taboo, that by discussing sex it would be viewed as condoning or encouraging sexual activity. Conclusion. Parents need to be educated regarding the benefits that comprehensive sex education will have for their children, in the light of the massive problem of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Education on these matters is vital for all young people.