Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 847–869 | Cite as

Paradox of Parental Involvement in Sexual Health and Induced Abortions Among In-school Female Adolescents in Southwest Nigeria

  • Mary Olufunke Obiyan
  • Ojo Melvin Agunbiade
Original Paper


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.


Parental involvement Female adolescent sexuality Induced abortions Contraception Nigeria 



Our special thanks go to the female adolescents and parents that shared their private worlds and opinions in improving the body of knowledge on adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Nigeria. We also appreciate the contributions of Dr. Caroline Kabiru, a Research Scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center to the early drafts of this paper. In the same vein, we received tremendous contributions from Dr. Zowie Davy, a Senior Lecturer in Community Care School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln. Zowie under the publication-mentoring program provided by the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture, and Sexuality (IASSCS) provided thought provoking comments and suggestions in improving the quality of this paper. Special thanks to the anonymous reviewers and the editorial team for providing quality feedbacks at different stages of the peer review process.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Obafemi Awolowo UniversityIle-IfeNigeria
  2. 2.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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