Screening for Risk Factors: Adolescent Sexual Risk Behavior as a Symptom of Disordered Family Structure and Functioning.

Vivien O. Abah


Background: Adolescent transition is associated with risky sexual behavior. Evidence has demonstrated the impact of family factors mediated through parental attachment on adolescents’ decisions on sexual debut and practice. Health provider initiated focused intervention targeting  at risk adolescents and their families  is needed  but measures for family factors have not been incorporated into adolescents screening  instruments. This gap in literature and adolescent health packages demands attention.

Aim and Objectives: This study aims to use the Family Circle and APGAR Questionnaire to elicit the pattern of parental attachment and perceived family functioning and their relationship with sexual debut with a view to recommending them as screening instruments.

Method: Over 400 senior secondary school students randomly selected participated using self administered instruments including the Family Circle and APGAR Questionnaire. P value was set at 0.05.

Results: The Family Circle elicited the pattern of parental attachment   and showed a significant relationship with sexual debut and parent adolescent communication on sexuality. The APGAR elicited the perceived family functioning among the respondents. A significant relationship was established between sexual debut and parents’ educational status and parents' separation.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated the impact of disordered family structure and functioning on adolescent sexual practice mediated through parental attachment  using the Family Circle and APGAR questionnaire. The utility of these instruments in eliciting parental attachment and perceived family functioning makes them vital tools proposed for screening and detection of at risk adolescents.

Key words: adolescent, parental attachment, family structure, functioning, sexual debut.

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