Unsupervised Teens at Risk for STDs
Involved Parents Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Feb. 10, 2003 -- Teenage girls who say their parents don't keep
a watchful eye on them are much more likely to become infected with common
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia. A new study shows that
black girls who say they have low levels of parental supervision were more than
twice as likely to get an STD than their peers who felt they were more closely
Researchers say that black adolescent girls suffer
disproportionately from STDs, including HIV, than others, and the results
suggest that increasing parental involvement may be a promising approach in
reducing sexually transmitted diseases.
The study, published in the February issue of The Archives
of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, involved 217 black females aged 14
to 18 who were enrolled in another study looking at the effects of an HIV
prevention program. Researchers collected vaginal swabs from the girls at
six-month intervals for 18 months and screened the samples for chlamydia,
gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.
At the start of the study, 36.5% of the girls said they
received only infrequent monitoring from their parents, and researchers found
these teens were significantly more likely to test positive for at least one
STD during the 18-month study.
They found the unsupervised girls were between 1.8 and 2.4
times more likely to acquire chlamydia or trichomoniasis during the study than
girls who perceived higher levels of parental supervision. For example, nearly
half of the teens who reported low levels of parental supervision tested
positive for chlamydia at least once during the study compared with only about
a third of the other girls.
Researcher Richard A. Crosby, PhD, of the Rollins School of
Public Health in Atlanta, and colleagues say it's the first time that the
perception of lack of parental involvement predicted an increased risk of STDs
among teenage girls and was confirmed with tests. Previous studies have also
shown the female adolescents are more likely to engage in sexual activity if
they feel their parents aren't monitoring them closely.
Researchers say their findings suggest that more efforts are
needed to involve parents in community- and clinic-based STD prevention