Paradox of Parental Involvement in Sexual Health and Induced Abortions Among In-school Female Adolescents in Southwest Nigeria
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Prevalent early sexual initiation and unprotected sex involvement with various partners create dilemmas for adolescents and their parents. This article explores parents' involvement in their adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health, particularly with respect to terminating unintended pregnancies. This was done to gain an understanding of the dynamics of parental involvement in resolving anxieties concerning unintended pregnancy and the reasons for seeking induced abortions. The study used a mixed method approach, and 460 female students aged 13–20 years completed the self-administered questionnaire. Thirty-three parents who had an adolescent daughter in school and 31 female adolescents participated in eight different focus group discussion sessions, respectively. A quarter of the respondents had been pregnant at least once. All the females who had ever become pregnant had tried to terminate the pregnancy. Few (9 %) had used contraception at their last sexual intercourse. Twenty nine percent of the respondents had discussed sexual matters with their parents and 82 % preferred discussing such matters with their mothers. In the qualitative findings, some of the parents reported not having been involved in or supportive of terminating their daughter's pregnancy, but confirmed that some mothers had reasons to support induced abortions. Major reasons for mothers' involvement in their daughters' induced abortions were to avoid the social stigma, disruption of schooling and financial stress associated with unintended pregnancy. Resolving conflicting parental interests and values concerning adolescent sexuality and induced abortions is essential for promoting adolescent sexual health in Nigeria.