Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1779–1790 | Cite as

Approaches to Regulating Adolescent Sexual Behavior in Ghana: Qualitative Evidence from Somanya and Adidome

  • Susan Langmagne
  • Eric Y. Tenkorang
  • Emmanuel Asampong
  • Joseph Osafo
  • Jeffrey Bart Bingenheimer
Original Paper


This article examines perceptions of why HIV infection is severe among adolescents in Somanya and less so in Adidome—two seemingly similar communities in Ghana—through analysis of the social control measures employed by these communities to regulate adolescent sexual initiation. Using focus group discussions with parents and caregivers of adolescent children, the study found that parents in Somanya and Adidome used different regulatory mechanisms to influence adolescent sexual initiation. While parents in Somanya relied largely on parental monitoring, parents in Adidome depended more on a combination of neighborhood monitoring and community barriers (informal rules) to control adolescent sexual onset. The study findings showed that contextual factors (socioeconomic and cultural) shaped the social realities of people in these two communities accounting for the differences in HIV prevalence.


Adolescents Sexual regulation Parents Community efficacy HIV/AIDS Sub-Saharan Africa 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Ethics approval for this study was granted by the Institutional Review Boards at the George Washington University and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research at the University of Ghana.

Informed Consent

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


  1. Akumatey, B., & Darkwah, A. (2009). Gender norms, domestic violence and women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS: Report of a National Study. Accra: The Gender Centre.Google Scholar
  2. Anarfi, J. (1990). Female migration, occupation and diseases linkages: The Abidjan case study. Paper presented at informal workshop on researching sexual networking in West Africa, Ibadan, 22–23 March, 1990.Google Scholar
  3. Anarfi, J. K. (2003). To change or not to change: Obstacles and resistance to sexual behavioral change among the youth in Ghana in the era of AIDS. Institute of African Studies Research Review, 19, 27–45.Google Scholar
  4. Asampong, E., Osafo, J., Bingenheimer, J. B., & Ahiadeke, C. (2013). Adolescents and parents’ perceptions of best time for sex and sexual communications from two communities in the Eastern and Volta Regions of Ghana: Implications for HIV and AIDS education. BMC International Health and Human Rights Journal, 13, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Atobrah, D. (2004). Children of dead mothers and ‘unknown’ fathers. Research Review Supplement, 16, 59–76.Google Scholar
  6. Auerbach, J. D., Hayes, R. J., & Kandathila, S. M. (2006). Overview of effective and promising interventions to HIV infection. In D. A. Ross, B. Dick, & J. Ferguson (Eds.), Preventing HIV/AIDS in young people: A systematic review of the evidence from developing countries (pp. 43–63). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  7. Bandura, A. (1986). The explanatory and predictive scope of self-efficacy theory. Journal of Clinical and Social Psychology, 4, 359–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baumer, E. P., & South, S. J. (2001). Community effects on youth sexual activity. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 540–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Baumrind, D., & Black, A. E. (1967). Socialization practices associated with dimensions of competence in preschool boys and girls. Child Development, 38, 291–327.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Billy, J. O. G., Brewster, K. L., & Grady, W. R. (1994). Contextual effects on the sexual behavior of adolescent women. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 56, 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bingenheimer, J. B., Asante, E., & Ahiadeke, C. (2015). Peer influences on sexual activity among adolescents in Ghana. Studies in Family Planning, 46, 1–19.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Boakye, P. A. (2010). A rite of passage among the Krobos of Eastern Region, Ghana. Master’s thesis, University of Tromsa, Norway. Retrieved from
  13. Brewster, K. L., Cooksey, E. C., Guilkey, D. K., & Rindfuss, R. R. (1998). The changing impact of religion on the sexual and contraceptive behaviour of adolescent women in the United States. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 493–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Browning, C. R., Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2005). Sexual initiation during early adolescence: The nexus of parental and community control. American Sociological Review, 70, 758–778.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burgard, S., & Lee-Rife, S. M. (2009). Community characteristics, sexual initiation, and condom use among young black South Africans. Journal of Health and Behaviour, 50, 293–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Clark, S. (2004). Early marriage and HIV risks in Sub-Saharan Africa. Studies in Family Planning, 35, 149–160.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Coleman, J. C. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, 95–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Coleman, J. S. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge, MA: University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Dekker, P., & Uslaner, E. M. (2001). Introduction. In E. M. Uslaner (Ed.), Social capital and participation in everyday life (pp. 1–8). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. DeVore, E. R., & Ginsburg, K. R. (2005). The protective effects of good parenting on adolescents. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 17, 60–465.Google Scholar
  21. Freudenberg, W. R. (1986). The density of acquaintanceship: An overlooked variable in community research. American Journal of Sociology, 92, 27–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ghana Health Service. (2016). 2015 HIV Sentinel Survey Report. Accra, Ghana: National AIDS/STI Control Programme.Google Scholar
  23. Gibbs, J. T. (1986). Psychosocial correlates of sexual attitudes and behaviour in urban and early adolescent females: Implications for intervention. Journal of Social Work and Human Sexuality, 5, 81–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hoffman, L. (1991). Changes in family roles, socialization, and sex differences. American Psychologist, 32, 644–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kirby, D. (2002). The impact of schools and school programs upon Adolescent sexual behavior. Journal of Sex Research, 39, 27–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Kornhauser, R. R. (1978). Social sources of delinquency. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kubrin, C. E., & Weitzer, R. (2003). New directions in social disorganization theory. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 40, 374–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kumi-Kyereme, A., Awusabo-Asare, K., Biddlecom, A., & Tanle, A. (2007). Influence of social connectedness, communication and monitoring on adolescent sexual activity in Ghana. African Journal of Reproductive Health, 11, 133–136.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Langmagne, S. (2016). High HIV/AIDS prevalence in a suburban area in Ghana: A context analysis of its relationship to human trafficking. Doctor of philosophy dissertation submitted to the University of Saskatchewan.Google Scholar
  30. Liamputtong, P. (2009). Focus group methodology: Principle and practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  31. Lund, R., & Agyei-Mensah, S. (2008). Queens and mothers: The role of the traditional safety net of care and support for HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Ghana. Journal of Geography, 71, 93–106.Google Scholar
  32. Mash, E. J., & Barkley, R. A. (2003). Child psychopathology. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  33. Miller, B. C. (1998). Families matter: A research synthesis of family influences on adolescent pregnancy. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.Google Scholar
  34. Miller, B. C., & Sneesby, K. R. (1988). Educational correlates of adolescents’ sexual attitudes and behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 17, 521–530.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Murry, V. M. (1992). Incidence of first pregnancy among Black adolescent females over three decades. Youth and Society, 23, 478–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nandoya, E. (2014). Sociocultural factors influencing the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Posted on Linkedin. Retrieved from on December 14, 2017.
  37. Osafo, J., Asampong, E., Langmagne, S., & Ahiedeke, C. (2013). Perceptions of parents on how religion influences adolescents sexual behaviours in two Ghanaian communities: Implications for HIV and AIDS prevention. Journal of Religion and Health, 52, 959–971.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Osgood, D. W., Chambers, J. M. (2003). Community correlates of rural youth violence. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  39. Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  40. Pieterse, J. N. (2003). Social capital and migration: Beyond ethnic economies. Ethnicities, 3, 29–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Putnam, R. D. (1995). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. Journal of Democracy, 6, 65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Romer, D., Stanton, B., Galbraith, J., Freigelman, S., Black, M. M., & Li, X. (1999). Parental influence on adolescent sexual behaviour in high-poverty settings. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 153, 1055–1062.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Sackey, B. M. (2001). Cultural responses to the managementof HIV/AIDS: The repackaging of puberty rites. Institute of African Studies Research Review, 17, 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sampson, R. J. (1983). Structural density and criminal victimization. Criminology, 21, 276–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sampson, R. J. (2004). Neighborhood and community: Collective efficacy and community safety. New Economy, 11, 106–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sampson, R. J., Morenoff, J. D., & Gannon-Rowley, T. (2002). Assessing neighbourhood effects: Social processes and new direction in research. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 443–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sauvé, N., Dzokoto, A., Opare, B., Kaitoo, E. E., Khonde, N., Mondor, M., … Pépin, J. (2002). The price of development: HIV infection in a semi-urban community of Ghana. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 20, 402–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schroeder, R. M. & Danquah, S. (2000). Prevention of HIV/AIDS through traditional means: The cultural practice of dipo rites. In Psych discourse “Indigenization” of African psychology, 31. Retrieved March 2012, from
  49. Shaw, C. R., & McKay, H. D. (1942). Juvenile delinquency and urban areas: A study of rates of delinquents in relation to differential characteristics of local communities in American cities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  50. Small, S. A., & Luster, T. (1994). Adolescent sexual activity: An ecological risk-factor approach. Journal of Marriage and Family, 56, 181–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sossou, M. (2007). Gender inequality and lack of sexual and reproductive rights of women in Ghana: Implications for social work education. Professional Development: International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education, 10, 1–35.Google Scholar
  52. Stephenson, R. (2009). Community influences on young people’s sexual behavior in 3 African countries. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 102–109.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  53. Tenkorang, E., & Maticka-Tyndale, E. (2008). Factors influencing the timing of first sexual intercourse among young people in Nyanza, Kenya. International Family Planning Perspectives, 34, 177–188.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Tenkorang, E. Y., Maticka-Tyndale, E., & Fernando, R. (2011). A multi-level analysis of risk perception, poverty and sexual risk-taking among young people in Cape Town, South Africa. Health & Place, 17, 525–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Teye, J. K. (2005). Condom use as a means of HIV/AIDS prevention and fertility control among the Krobos of Ghana. Norwegian Journal of Geography, 59, 65–73.Google Scholar
  56. UNAIDS. (2010). UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic. Geneva: UNAIDS. Retrieved from
  57. Wilson, W. J. (1996). When work disappears. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Langmagne
    • 1
  • Eric Y. Tenkorang
    • 2
  • Emmanuel Asampong
    • 3
  • Joseph Osafo
    • 4
  • Jeffrey Bart Bingenheimer
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Department of SociologyMemorial UniversitySt. John’sCanada
  3. 3.Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public HealthUniversity of GhanaAccraGhana
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GhanaAccraGhana
  5. 5.School of Public Health and Health ServicesThe George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations