The context of parent-child communication about sexuality and HIV prevention; the perspectives of high school learners in Gauteng Province, South Africa

Annah Mabunda, Sphiwe Madiba

Abstract


Although research has demonstrated that parent-child communication influences the reduction of sexual risk behaviors among adolescent, there are limited studies conducted on parent-child communication on sexuality in sub-Saharan African. The study explored the perspectives of adolescents on the context and content of communication with their parents about sexuality. The study conducted focus group discussions with adolescents aged 14-19 years recruited from a high school in Ekurhuleni municipality, Gauteng Province, South Africa. The findings revealed that the communications between parents and adolescents were not planned, were infrequent, and were characterized by warnings and threats. The tone of the communication was harsh, ambiguous, and filled with threats and warnings about the dangers of HIV. The adolescents felt that the communication was unidirectional, took the form of a lecture rather than dialogue; the information was at times incorrect, and the consequences of sex were exaggerated. They perceived the tone of the discussions as a barrier to effective communication with their parents. The discussions were triggered by various factors like the perceived undesirable behavior by the adolescents, the parental suspicion of sexual debut, puberty, and menstrual flow. The adolescents perceived the discussion as beneficial, but, they desired the discussion to occur in a safe environment which allows them to contribute to the discussion. Interventions to promote parent-child communication should emphasize the importance of a dialogue to prevent the unidirectional process where only parents do the talking. This is particularly important given that the adolescents desire to communicate with parents on sexual issues.


Keywords


adolescents, parents, sexuality, communication, triggers, South Africa

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