Young People’s Perceptions about Premarital Sex, Perceived Parent Values about Sex and Premarital Sexual Behaviour in Ghana

Type Working Paper
Title Young People’s Perceptions about Premarital Sex, Perceived Parent Values about Sex and Premarital Sexual Behaviour in Ghana
URL 2016-Ofori and Dodoo.pdf
Over the years, perceptions about premarital sex have been changing and acceptance of premarital sex is
becoming more evident (Wells & Twenge, 2005; Zhang & Beck, 1999). Premarital sex among young people
exposes them to teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS
(Anarfi, 1997; Li et al., 2015; Okigbo & Speizer, 2015). This is especially alarming since about half of new
HIV/AIDS infections occur among young people between the ages 15 and 24 and particularly worrying in
sub-Saharan Africa where about 43 percent of the population is less than 15 years (PRB, 2014) and more
than one third is between the ages 10-24 years (UNFPA & PRB, 2012).
In Ghana, a little over a third (34%) of never married women and 30 percent of never married males
between the ages 15 and 24 had ever had sex. Of these, however, only about 3 out of every 10 females and
45 percent of males reported the use of a condom at last sexual intercourse (GSS, GHS, & ICF Macro,
2009). This calls for serious considerations into young peoples’ perceptions and attitudes about sex. Studies
concerning young people’s perception about premarital sex have shown that young people with favourable
perceptions about sex are more likely to engage in premarital sex (Tang et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2007;
Wells & Twenge, 2005).
It is important to note that young people’s perceptions however, do not develop in isolation. One’s social
space plays an important role in shaping beliefs and perceptions. Studies have shown that adolescents’
perceptions of their parents’ values about sex are instrumental to their sexual development (Somers &
Anagurthi, 2014) and these values are likely to shape adolescents’ own perceptions. This suggests the
importance of studying not only the young person’s perception about premarital sex but also what their
perceived parents’ values/perceptions about sex are in addition to other family specific situations such as
relationship quality and financial support.
This study therefore focuses not only on young peoples’ perception about sex but what they think their
parents’ perceptions about sex are and explores other family context variables in two urban communities in
Ghana. Our study is particularly timely since studies of this nature have had small representation in the
literature on sub-Saharan Africa and more especially in Ghana in order to design and develop context
specific intervention programs.

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