Let’s Talk About Sex, Adolescents Carer Adolescent Communication about Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK and India
Background Carer-adolescent communication about sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is linked to positive SRH outcomes for adolescents. However, carers often avoid or delay having conversations with adolescents about SRH for a variety of reasons. Adolescents in the UK and India both face serious SRH challenges. The UK has a comparatively high rates of adolescent pregnancy and some STIs while India faces challenges with SRH education and stigma surrounding sex. Objectives This study aims to determine what factors inhibit carers’ ability to discuss SRH with adolescents, potential channels of communication, and how carers can communicate effectively with their adolescent children to positively influence their SRH decisions. Methods This research used a literature review to compile background research on the topic. Semi-structured interviews were used with key informants to investigate carer-adolescent communication on SRH. Three key informants from UK SRH organizations that provide carer education courses or resources were interviewed as well as one participant from an SRH organization in India that provides SRH workshops for carers. Results The most common factors influencing carers’ avoidance or delay in discussing SRH with adolescents were embarrassment on the topic of SRH, a lack of knowledge on the topic or their child’s life in regard to SRH, and a lack of modeling or examples of how these conversations should be conducted. The most significant contextual factors that influenced carers’ ability to effectively discuss SRH were pornography, carers’ socioeconomic status or education level, and the taboo nature of discussing sex. Carers were often unaware of alternative communication channels that could help them communicate more effectively with 2 18006625 adolescents - most significantly the use of media and adolescent observation of carers’ attitudes and behaviors surrounding SRH. Positive communication strategies and carer characteristics were openness and honesty about the topic of SRH, discussing SRH early and often, and trust building. Conclusion This study demonstrates the need for carers to overcome their feelings of embarrassment and lack of knowledge on SRH and their childrens’ SRH decisions to communicate openly and honestly with adolescents about SRH. Organizations need to expand their reach and make their courses and resources more accessible to all carers - specifically carers with a lower socioeconomic status or education level and male carers. Additional research is needed on the impact of pornography - specifically violent, aggressive pornography - on aldolescents and how organizations can effectively address this in carer courses and resources.