In this longitudinal study, we examined two hypotheses on how sexuality-specific parenting – parenting aimed specifically at children’s sexual attitudes and behaviours – relates to adolescents’ sexual development. The ‘buffer hypothesis’ states that parents’ active media discussions with their children act as a buffer against the effects of sexualized media consumption on adolescents’ sexual attitudes and behaviour, and vice versa, against the effects of adolescents’ sexual attitudes and behaviour on their sexualized media consumption. The ‘brake hypothesis’ states that, by communicating sexual norms oriented to love and respect, parents act as a brake on increases in adolescents’ sexualized media use, permissive sexual attitudes, sexual behaviour and risky sexual behaviour. Using four-wave longitudinal data from 514 Dutch adolescents aged 13–16 (49.8% girls), we found evidence to support a brake effect. More frequent parental communication of love-and-respect-oriented sexual norms was associated with less permissive sexual attitudes and, for boys, with less advanced sexual behaviour and a slower increase in risky sexual behaviour. Active discussions by parents about adolescents’ sexualized media consumption were associated with less permissive baseline sexual attitudes, but only for girls. No systematic evidence emerged for the buffer hypothesis.

Kind en Adolescent

Overbeek, G., van de Bongardt, D., & Baams, L. (2019). De rol van seksuele opvoeding in de ontwikkeling van seksualiteit en seksueel expliciete mediaconsumptie in de adolescentie. Kind en Adolescent, 40, 137–156. Retrieved from