Risky sexual behaviour among unmarried young people in Cameroon: another look at family environment

J Biosoc Sci. 2011 Mar;43(2):129-53. doi: 10.1017/S0021932010000635. Epub 2010 Dec 7.


Most studies of the association between family structure and risky sexual behaviour among adolescents and young adults have employed a risk perspective which assumes that, compared with other types, two-parent families are protective. Drawing from a positive-oriented approach in this study, it is hypothesized that within each family type some influential factors may mitigate such anticipated deleterious effects of non-intact families and decrease sexual risk-taking. The paper examines specifically the effects of risk and protective factors with an emphasis on family processes associated with resilience, using data from a pooled sample of 1025 females and males aged 12-24 years from Bandjoun (West Cameroon). Findings show that the quality of parent/guardian-youth relationships significantly decreases the odds of risky sexual behaviour by 36%, 65% and 50% in neither-, one- and two-parent families, respectively. For two-parent families only, parental control acts as a significant protective factor; it decreased by 41% the odds of risky sexual behaviour. Programmatically, protective family factors such as parent/guardian-youth interactions need to be promoted to improve the efficiency of reproductive health and HIV interventions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cameroon / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Single Person / psychology
  • Single Person / statistics & numerical data
  • Single-Parent Family / psychology
  • Single-Parent Family / statistics & numerical data
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult