The content and context of mother-adolescent communication about sex in Latino families

James J. Jaccard, Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, Patricia Dittus, Vincent Goldberg, Eileen Casillas, Alida Bouris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research has shown that Latino parents discuss sexual topics with their children less often than do parents from other ethnic groups; however, communication about sex in Latino families is not well understood. The present study explored the content and process of mother—adolescent communication about sex to better understand how to facilitate communication in urban Latino families. Focus-group interviews were conducted with 63 Latino mother—adolescent pairs in New York City. Latina mothers were able to discuss certain sex-related topics, such as the consequences of sexual activity, but not others, including sexual intercourse and birth control. Adolescents wanted to discuss sexual topics with their mothers, yet most did not because of fears their mothers would assume they were sexually active and would punish them. Our findings suggest that Latino culture and the urban environment play a large role in mother—adolescent conversations about sex. Latina mothers were raised in a culture not supportive of open discussions about sex in the home, yet they recognize the risks their adolescents experience in an urban U.S. environment. The present study provides information on the nature of communication about sex in Latino families and can help tailor interventions aimed at reducing adolescent sexual risk behavior.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-181
JournalSocial Work Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007


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