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Sibling Influences on Adolescents’ Attitudes Toward Safe Sex Practices*


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    This research was supported by grants from the University of Missouri Outreach and Extension, the Upjohn-Pharmacia Corporation, and the Office of Population Affairs. We appreciate the contribution of the participating adolescents and Mark Fine, Teresa Cooney, Laurie Kramer, and Louis Rosencrans. Portions of this article were presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, April 2001, Minneapolis, MN.

**Dr. Amanda Kowal, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Missouri, Columbia, 312 Gentry Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 (


We examined the role of older siblings in protecting adolescents from engaging in unsafe sexual practices. Participants included 297 midwestern high school students who were approximately 17 years old and who responded to questionnaires assessing their attitudes toward sexual intercourse, self-efficacy for engaging in safe sex, and discussions with their older siblings and parents about sex. Results suggested that sibling discussions about safe sex, in conjunction with parental discussions, predicted better attitudes toward safe sexual practices for adolescents. Perceptions of sibling relationship quality were more closely associated with sibling discussions about safe sex than were older siblings’ general attitudes toward safer sexual intercourse. Thus, sibling relationship quality may serve a protective function by facilitating more frequent sibling discussions about safe sex.