Background The relationship between parental monitoring and adolescent risk behaviour is well established. Both overall parental knowledge of adolescent activities and parental enforcement of family rules are associated with a decreased likelihood of sexual initiation. Few interventions exist to improve parents’ monitoring efforts with their children, particularly at a population-level. Project Connect is a low-cost highly sustainable approach using distribution of print modules to influence parental monitoring practices.
Methods Twelve high schools and fourteen middle schools in a public school district in Los Angeles, California were matched on geography, teen birth and Chlamydia rates and then randomly assigned to intervention and comparison conditions. Survey data were collected from 28,470 male and female students sampled cross-sectionally every year for five years, from randomly selected required classes. The sample was 78.6% Latino and 10.6% African American; the mean age was 15.4. Intervention materials were mailed to all parents in intervention schools (more than 33,000). Analyses were conducted in SPSS 21 with linear mixed models that accounted for students being potentially sampled in multiple years.
Results Across all years, intervention school students reported higher enforcement of family rules than comparison school students (F[1,28470] = 5.25, p = 0.022). Although student reports of family rules enforcement increased across the five years for both intervention and comparison students (F[4,28470] = 9.66, p < 00.001) there was a significant interaction between condition and time, with intervention students’ reports of family rules increasing more than comparison students’ (F[4,28470] = 2.54, p = 0.038). Intervention effects on student reported parental knowledge were non-significant.
Conclusions We observed a population-level intervention effect on adolescent perceptions of parental enforcement of family rules using a brief, easily administered print-based intervention. Project Connect materials may be used to increase this protective factor against sexual initiation in a variety of contexts where parents of adolescents may be reached, including schools, physician’s offices and clinics, and community-based organisations.
Disclosure of interest statement Nothing to declare.