The role of family functioning in parenting practices of court-involved youth


Court-involved youth engage in risky sex behaviors at higher rates than non-offending peers and are at particular risk for adverse sexual health outcomes. Parenting practices, such as parent-child sexual communication and parental monitoring, may protect court-involved youth from engaging in risky sexual behavior. Parent psychological distress and family dysfunction may, however, compromise parenting practices for court-involved youth. This study examined associations among parent mental health symptoms, family functioning, and parenting practices within 157 parent-youth dyads who were court-referred for mental health treatment. Results revealed that greater parent mental health symptoms were directly related to greater family dysfunction and indirectly associated with poorer parental monitoring through worse family functioning. Findings suggest that directly addressing parent mental health needs in family-based adolescent sexual health programming for court-involved youth may be effective in improving parent-child relationships and family processes that support long term sexual health outcomes for adolescents.

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