Date of Award

August 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Sandra D. Lane


african american, african american teenagers, parent-teen communication, risky sexual behavior, STIs

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences



The purpose of this study was to determine if, when and how African American parents discussed health issues and sexual risks with their teenagers. Interviews were conducted with thirty African American families connected to the South Side of Syracuse. The participants had connection to the South Side of Syracuse through either residency, employment, or church membership. I explore the context in which these conversations take place. When it came to teenage sexual relationships, discussions included other influences in the teenagers’ lives, as well as, how the information received outside of the home compared to what they were hearing from their parents. This study examined the effect these conversations or lack thereof have on African American teenagers’ decisions to become sexually active or delay sexual behavior. Chosen participants were from neighborhoods slated as high risk for STIs/HIV infections in Central New York. Data was collected through audio-recorded qualitative face-to-face interviews.

The study revealed that African American parents see the need for sexuality discussions and they are interested in being sexuality educators for their teenagers. Teens reported feeling uncomfortable, but preferred parents as educators. African American families would benefit from supportive programs to ease the uncomfortable feelings. Findings support the need for (a) culturally sensitive skill building classes to assist parents with communication, (b) African American teenage educators for the teenagers, (c) improved knowledge base of STIs/HIV in low-income neighborhoods, and (d) training of African American clergy and lay people to educate church members and the community about STIs/HIV.


Open Access