Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 1486–1498 | Cite as

Parenting, Communication about Sexuality, and the Development of Adolescent Womens’ Sexual Agency: A Longitudinal Assessment

  • Verena Klein
  • Inga Becker
  • Aleksandar Štulhofer
Empirical Research


Sexual agency (i.e., the ability to make decisions and assertions related to one’s own sexuality) is associated with sexual health enhancing outcomes. Given that young women are expected to act passively, rather than with agency when it comes to sexual encounters, the present study aimed to explore whether parental support, knowledge, and communication about sexuality during late adolescence contribute to an enhancement of sexual agency in a sample of young women in the long-term. Using a longitudinal design (panel study), 320 female participants who participated in three data collection waves (T1, T2, and T5) were included in the analyses (Mage = 16.2 years, SD = 0.50 at baseline). Mediated by the frequency of parents’ communication about sexuality with their daughters, both dimensions of parental support (emotional engagement and support of autonomy) positively predicted adolescent women’s sexual agency two years later. In contrast, parental knowledge of their children’s whereabouts was unrelated to communication and female sexual agency. Specific dimensions of parenting seem to play a crucial role in empowering adolescent girls to act agentic through communicating, emotional support, and encouraging autonomy, which in turn may contribute to healthy sexual behavior in young adulthood.


Adolescent women Sexual agency Parental support Communication about sexuality Longitudinal assessment 


Authors’ Contributions

V.K., I.B., and A.S. conceived of the study, participated in its design; and coordination, interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript; A.S. participated in the coordination of the study, performed the measurement; and performed the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work has been funded by Croatian Science Foundation grant number 9221 awarded to the third author. The first author received an Erasmus STA-scholarship (Staff Mobility–Teaching Assignment) for a research stay at the University of Zagreb, Croatia.

Data Sharing Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Verena Klein
    • 1
  • Inga Becker
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aleksandar Štulhofer
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Sex Research and Forensic PsychiatryUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and PsychotherapyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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