Understanding the Relationship between Religiosity and Caregiver–Adolescent Communication About Sex within African-American Families

Tiarney D. Ritchwood, Terrinieka W. Powell, Isha W. Metzger, Gaurav Dave, Giselle Corbie-Smith, Millicent Atujuna, Emily B.Vander Schaaf, Mysha Wynn, Feng Chang Lin, Wenxiao Zhou, Aletha Y. Akers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Caregiver–adolescent communication about sex plays a critical role in the sexual socialization of youth. Many caregivers, however, do not engage their youth in such conversations, potentially placing them at risk for negative sexual health outcomes. Lack of caregiver–adolescent communication about sex may be particularly harmful for rural African American youth, as they often report early sex initiation and are disproportionately impacted by STIs. Moreover, sexual communication may be particularly challenging for families with strong religious backgrounds, potentially affecting the occurrence and breadth of topics covered during communication. Study aims were to: determine whether there was a relationship between caregiver religiosity and type of topics covered during communication about sex (e.g., general sexual health vs. positive aspects of sexuality) among 435 caregivers of early adolescent, African American youth; and if so, identify factors that might explain how religiosity affects communication about sex. Results indicated that caregiver religiosity was positively associated with communication about general, but not positive aspects of sexuality for caregivers of males. Attitudes towards communication about sex and open communication style mediated the relationship. There was no association between religiosity and communication about sex for caregivers of females. The findings from this study could provide a base to better understand and support the sexual socialization process within religious, African American families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2979-2989
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • African American
  • Parent-teen communication about sex
  • Religiosity
  • Rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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