Family homework and school-based sex education: delaying early adolescents' sexual behavior

J Sch Health. 2013 Nov;83(11):810-7. doi: 10.1111/josh.12098.


Background: Early sexual activity can undermine adolescents' future school success and health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to assess the role of a family homework component of a comprehensive sex education intervention in delaying sexual initiation for early adolescents and to explore what social and contextual factors prevent adolescents from completing these family homework activities.

Methods: This mixed methods study included 6th- and 7th-grade survey responses from 706 students at 11 middle school schools receiving a sex education intervention, as well as interviews from a subset of 33, 7th-grade students from the larger sample.

Results: Adolescents who completed more family homework assignments were less likely to have vaginal intercourse in 7th grade than those who completed fewer assignments, after controlling for self-reports of having had vaginal intercourse in 6th grade and demographic variables. Participants' explanations for not completing assignments included personal, curriculum, and family-based reasons.

Conclusions: Family homework activities designed to increase family communication about sexual issues can delay sex among early adolescents and contribute to school-based sex education programs. Successful sex education programs must identify and address barriers to family homework completion.

Keywords: homework; middle school; sex education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Age Distribution
  • Boston
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Data Collection
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Self Efficacy
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Education*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data