Perceived quality of the parental relationship and divorce effects on sexual behaviour in Spanish adolescents
Parental divorce has been linked to some risky sexual behaviour in previous studies. Here we examine whether the sexual behaviour of adolescents is related more to the perceived quality of the interparental relationship or to the parents’ divorce in a sample from Spain, the country that has experienced the greatest recent increase in marital break-ups in the European Union. Participants were 801 adolescents aged between 14 and 17, who completed questionnaires anonymously. Adolescents who perceive high conflict in their parents’ marriages have more sexual activity and engage in more risk practices in some sexual behaviours compared to adolescents with divorced parents and low interparental conflict. When adolescents perceive low conflict, those with divorced parents are more sexually active than adolescents with married parents, but they do not engage in more risk practices. The perceived quality of the parental relationship has a greater negative impact on adolescents than does the type of family structure. The study highlights the need to address the parents’ marital relationship in the implementation of prevention programmes of sexual risk behaviours in Spanish adolescents.
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