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Keywords:

  • sexual intercourse;
  • Hispanic;
  • parental monitoring;
  • parent-child communication;
  • acculturation

BACKGROUND: Hispanic youths have high rates of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies, yet little research has targeted multiple protective/risk factors for early sexual initiation in this group. This study examined two main factors—parenting practices and acculturation—on early sexual initiation among Hispanic middle school students in Texas.

METHODS: Using data from Hispanic seventh graders (N = 655) in 15 urban middle schools in southeast Texas, we examined the association between parental monitoring/parent-child communication about sexual health and sexual initiation.

RESULTS: After controlling for age, gender, parent/guardian education, family structure, acculturation level, and intervention status, the likelihood of ever having sex decreased 50% for every 1-point increase in the parental monitoring score (AOR = 0.50;95%CI = 0.34,0.75). No association was found between ever having sex and parent-child communication scores (AOR = 1.29;95%CI = 0.76,2.18). Furthermore, parental monitoring differed significantly between acculturation levels, 1-way analysis of variance F(2,652) = 5.07, p < 0.007. This finding was unrelated to the parental monitoring-initiation association in the multivariable model.

CONCLUSION: Parental monitoring may delay sexual initiation among Hispanic middle school students. Parental monitoring differs by acculturation levels, warranting further investigation. These findings can inform school-based, parent-involved interventions designed to delay sexual initiation among Hispanic youth.