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The protective role of family structure for adolescent development in sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Oluwaseyi Dolapo Somefun, and Clifford Odimegwu
Source: PLOS ONE , 13(10): e0206197; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0206197
Topic(s): Family structure
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: OCT 2018
Abstract: Several studies have focused on the risk factors associated with adolescent developmental outcomes, but the literature on the role of protective factors at the family and community level for positive adolescent development is scarce, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We hypothesize that ensuring a supportive environment for adolescents may result in delayed sexual debut for adolescents in SSA. The relationship between family structure and positive adolescent sexual behaviour, measured as delay in sexual debut, was examined using the bioecological theory framed by a risk and resilience perspective. We used nationally representative data on female and male adolescents (aged 15–17 years) from 12 countries in SSA. We modelled logistic regressions to test for associations between family structure and delayed sexual debut while controlling for other covariates in SSA. The majority (90%) of the young adults delayed sexual debut, and this delay varied by family structure. After controlling for other covariates, adolescents living with neither parent had lower odds of delaying sexual debut although results were only significant for males. Interaction terms with community socio-economic status showed an interaction between community education and males living with neither parent. Future studies must investigate the gender differentials in the relationship between family structure and delayed sexual debut among adolescents in SSA.