This experiment is part of the Adolescence Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

Helping parents and their teens talk about romantic and sexual relationships

Raised of $2,000 Goal
Ended on 1/20/17
Campaign Ended
  • $895
  • 45%
  • Finished
    on 1/20/17

About This Project

Our conversations with youth indicate their beliefs in sexual stereotypes affect their romantic relationships. For some, such beliefs are associated with dating violence, yet many do not seek their parents' help. Our work suggests parent-teen conversations about these issues were fostered by discussion of other youths’ experiences. We will create and evaluate prevention material designed to facilitate parent-teen conversations about romantic relationships.

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What is the context of this research?

Parents are in a unique position to help their teens develop non-coercive romantic relationships, yet parents and teens find it difficult to discuss sex and relationships. Indeed, during adolescence, teenagers face a series of closely-spaced developmental changes and corresponding opportunities for sexual decision-making, all of which can present challenges to parents’ ability to guide their children or to know about their teens’ attitudes and behaviors. Effective parent-child communication may serve as a protective factor against intimate partner violence. Despite this, programs to reduce adolescent intimate partner violence rarely include parents. Similarly, programs to promote parent-adolescent communication about sexual health rarely discuss intimate partner violence.

What is the significance of this project?

Intimate partner violence most commonly begins during adolescence within a romantic relationship, yet as few as 25% of teens have talked with a parent about it. One in ten teens who have dated experienced interpersonal violence within the last year. Girls who experience dating violence are more than four times as likely to become pregnant, twice as likely to report a sexually transmitted infection diagnosis, and 60% more likely to attempt suicide than other girls. Although boys are less frequently victims of dating violence, those who are victims suffer adverse outcomes, such as increased antisocial behaviors, suicide ideation, and interpersonal violence victimization in adulthood.

What are the goals of the project?

There is a critical need for a parent-adolescent prevention program that facilitates and improves discussion of values and behaviors associated with romantic and sexual relationships, some of which can be violent. Over the past three years, we have gathered narratives from our conversations with 108 young people. We will use these narratives to create eight discussion prompts that we will pilot test with 10 parent-teen dyads. Professionally-designed materials will emphasize topics such as virginity, romantic and sexual relationships, and dating violence. The parent and teen will read a prompt and discuss the issue with each other. Then, we will talk separately to the parent and the teen to gather feedback about potential revisions to the prompts.


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The project will be conducted by Dr. Stacey Hust, an associate professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, and Dr. Kathleen Boyce Rodgers, an associate professor of Human Development and Prevention Science at Washington State University.

We request $500 to cover the costs associated with the development of the prevention program, which includes graphic design and printing.

We request $500 to pay a graduate assistant to help with the project. The graduate student will assist with development of the materials, recruitment and data collection.

We request $1000 for participant compensation. We will recruit 10 parent-teen dyads to participate in a pilot of the prevention program, and each parent and teen will receive $50 for their participation.

Endorsed by

Empirically-tested, effective materials that parents can use to guide conversations about romantic relationships with their teens are desperately needed! Drs. Hust and Rodgers are well-suited to lead this project given their extensive experience and knowledge in this area. I give my full endorsement and look forward to seeing the results!

Meet the Team

Stacey Hust
Stacey Hust
Associate Professor, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University
Kathleen Boyce Rodgers
Kathleen Boyce Rodgers
Associate Professor, Department of Human Development, Washington State University

Team Bio

Drs. Stacey J.T. Hust and Kathleen Rodgers began their scholarly collaboration because of a common interest in furthering understanding of media's influence on adolescent and emerging adults' sexual script development and sexual risk behavior. Dr. Hust's work in gender, media effects, and sexual assault among college students, and Dr. Rodgers' work in the area of adolescence development and sexuality complement each other well in this collaboration.

Stacey Hust

Hello! I am an associate professor of communication and Director of Strategic Communication in The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. My research identifies effective health communication messaging that can be used to reduce sexual assault and promote healthy sexual relationships among young people. I also investigate the media's effects on youths' romantic and sexual relationships.

I have been working with Kathleen for the past five years. Kathleen Boyce Rodgers and I received the 2014 Mary Ann Yodelis Smith Award for Feminist Research from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. We also earned one of two National Council on Family Relations Innovation Grants in 2014.

I am nationally ranked by the Communication Institute for Online Scholarship for her health communication research focused on media and children, gender, conflict (sexual assault reduction), and substance abuse prevention. My research has been published in the Journal of Sex Research, Journal of Health Communication, Health Communication, Mass Communication & Society, and others. My research has been sponsored by the United States Department of Education, the Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and the Washington State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program.

Kathleen Boyce Rodgers

Hi! I'm an associate professor in the Department of Human Development at Washington State University. My expertise is in adolescent development, sexuality, gender socialization, parent-teen communication, and working with community health organizations to conduct community–wide assessments of adolescent risk behaviors, psychosocial health, and relationships within multiple contexts.

My research explores how personal and social factors in one's environment interact and influence adolescents’ and young adults’ sexual health and risk-taking. My work has examined parent-teen communication and closeness, and violence and poverty as risk factors that contribute to adolescent sexual risk taking. My research also examines how media content may inform adolescent and emerging adults’ attitudes about dating violence, sexual stereotypes, objectification of women, and acceptance of sexual harassment.

I've been working with Stacey Hust for the past five years. We received the 2014 National Council on Family Relations Innovation Grants award to examine how parents and teens negotiate difficult conversations about healthy and unhealthy romantic relationships when prompted by content in music videos. We also received the 2014 Mary Ann Yodelis Smith Award for Feminist Research from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for qualitative research to explore how young women make sense of romantic relationships.

My research has been published in journals such as the Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and the Journal of Research on Adolescence. My research has been sponsored by local communities, the Washington State University Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program, and the Research in Human Sciences grants through the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.

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Additional Information

Project Backers

  • 26Backers
  • 45%Funded
  • $895Total Donations
  • $34.42Average Donation
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