Publication Date


Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Irene Gonzales

Second Advisor

Barbara Willard


adolescents, high-risk behaviors, parental communication, parental influence


Eighty seven ethnically diverse 9th and 1oth graders from an urban high school in Northern California were studied. Students were mostly female, between 14 and 16 years of age, and reported to be mostly Asian and Filipino. Students completed an 18-item Likert scale questionnaire requesting information about their overall relationship with their parents and their communication with their parents about drugs, sex, alcohol, birth control, and personal problems. Results of this study showed that participants rated their overall relationship with their parents as "good" or "very good." Despite this, communication was lacking among parents and adolescents in all topics of high risk behaviors. In addition, the participants did not feel comfortable talking to their parents about sex and birth control. Only 37% percent of adolescents reported having been spoken to by parents or guardians about not engaging in sex, taking drugs, and drinking alcohol. Only 3 7% of the participants stated that they would not engage in high-risk behaviors if their parents/guardians told them not to. Previous studies show a decrease in risky behaviors by the adolescents who have strong communication with their parents/caregivers. This study adds to this literature and further supports the belief that parental communication has a positive impact on adolescent behaviors. In the absence of parental/caregiver communication, teachers, school nurses, and nurse practitioners may need to fill this important role.