Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. Family is an important environment that is associated with a range of social and emotional behaviors of children. Twenty-six single males and females of years who were living in Isfahan participated in this qualitative research study. The participants had begun to have some form of sexual activities. Twelve other participants including parents, teachers, school counselors, clinical psychologists, family counselors, and health care providers also took part in the study.
Data collection method was based on semi-structured interview and observing the sexual actions and interactions of youths at different levels.
In order to analyze the data, the researcher used constant comparison analysis of investigation. Based on the prominent role of the family in shaping sexual relations before marriage, it is necessary to educate and support families and also revise the neglected aspects. Also, providing health for the society is considered as one of the main issues in any country. Sometimes, it would even bring death to such mothers.
However, smaller in-depth studies focusing on youth have indicated that their sexual activity has clearly increased. One of the functions of family is socialization of children. In the socialization process, children learn values, beliefs, and the accepted behavioral criteria of their society. The daily routines of families and their relations and contrasts are regarded as a resource which has an effect on the growth of children.
A healthy family creates a healthy structure and provides the opportunity for growth and development of children. Like in other countries, Iranian youth are also at the risk of experiencing and involving in sexual relations. Research studies have reported that risky sexual behaviors have been observed among the young people of the country. In recent years, HIV incidence has increased through sexual transmission. So, it is important to perform qualitative research studies to be able to prevent and control premarital sexual relations and inhibit risky sexual behaviors and their consequences.
In this research study, the actions and functions of family in shaping premarital sexual relations among youth are discussed. Participants The study participants were 26 single men and women, of age years. They were living in Isfahan. We selected the participants based on the criteria that they had begun to have some form of sexual activities, and volunteered to participate in the study. Potential participants were enrolled from the university campus, parks, and gyms because a large youth population could be found in these places.
There was an equal distribution of women and men; moreover, the researcher used different parks and gyms around the city to be able to choose people of different economic and social status. In order to reach to an expanded amount of information regarding the topic of the study and the aspects which may not have been scrutinized, 12 other participants including parents, teachers, school counselors, clinical psychologists, family counselors, and health care providers nurses, midwives, and obstetricians were enrolled in the study.
To choose these participants, two methods of sampling including purposeful sampling at first and maximum variation sampling people of different educational levels and professions were applied.
Informed consent, anonymity, information confidentiality, and the right of research withdrawal at any time were assured. Data collection Face-to-face in-depth semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. Most of the interviews were conducted in one session. The session with those participants who provided thorough information about the topic was divided into two or three sessions to avoid it being long and boring. Duration of the interviews varied from 45 to min.
The interviews were lengthened to reach the needed amount of saturation and richness. As the interview continued, it became more specialized and the content of the questions was the formation of sexual relations in youth, family functions, and other topics of related content. The research environment was suitable for qualitative studies and was based on natural settings. All the interviews were conducted in an agreed place such as parks. We found our potential key informants one male and three females after interviewing 10 individuals.
They were more informed about the topics of the study and knew many young men and women who had already initiated sexual activity.
In other words, these four participants were considered as the means to connect to the youth network. They showed their capability of being familiar with the culture of sexuality in terms of language of use, slang, and so on. They had a chance to observe sexual interactions among their peers and the circumstances which were impossible to be observed by the researchers.
The key informants also helped the researcher in finding further participants who had already started their sexual relations. In this study, the first investigator also observed the youth in different fields besides the interview process.
The first investigator also used key informants in observing acts, behaviors, talks, communications, and sexual interactions in different natural environments such as internet cafe, coffee shop, restaurant, shopping center, park, cinema, bus, gym, university, and recreational complex. The key informants were asked to write whatever it seemed to have a sexual nature among youth. They were asked to write these topics with a detailed look irrespective of any interpretation. The key informants were trained to write field note and the reflective journal on a daily basis.
They reported 40 episodes of field observation. Data analysis Shortly after an interview was conducted, the script of the recorded interviews was transcribed word by word by the first investigator. The scripts and the recoded observations of the field work were analyzed by constant comparison analysis.
All the new data were compared with the existing data in order to understand the differences and similarities of the incidents. In this way, the acceptable points were identified. Data credibility was reassured with long-lasting involvement 16 months with the participants and in the process of data collection. Besides the data collection duration, we created a rapport by a friendly relationship with the participants and close relationships with the key informants to have a trustful data collecti on procedure.
The first investigator also tried to search and analyze the contrastive evidence by interviewing youth of different layers of the society. Investigation within different social and economic situations was carried out to collect various and rich data. Discussion sessions with five different participants were conducted to collect their final views about the topic in order to fulfill member checking. Data confirmation was made possible by external checking.
During the external checking procedure, three university professors including an expert in the field of sexual behavior, nursing, and clinical psychology, who were knowledgeable in qualitative data analysis, assisted the first investigator to confirm the data. They first rechecked the coded scripts, and mentioned their opinions about the coding method; later they suggested their own code lists.
Data transferability was made possible by the findings reviewed by four young people including two young males and two young females who had similar characteristics as the participants of the study but did not take part in the study. These people found the findings similar to those behavioral patterns they used to observe in their real life.
Furthermore, we used external audit method of investigation to address the matter of dependability. This means the data analysis was done by an expert researcher who was not related to the study.
RESULTS Out of 26 single youths of years of age who participated in the study, 15 participants were females and the rest were males. Also, 15 people were students, 6 were employed, 1 was jobless, and 4 people were employed students. There was also a group of 12 participants 4 parents, 2 teachers and counselors, 1 clinical psychologist, 1 family counselor, 1 nurse, 2 midwives, and 1 gynecologist who participated in the study.
Data analysis showed that family and its characteristics are categorized as one of the main factors in shaping premarital sexual relations. They also mentioned that lack of friendship-based relations between parents and children, lack of love-based home environment, contempt and reproach, excessive command and prohibition, one-way relations, humiliating criticisms especially in gatherings , inferiority, loneliness, hopelessness, ostracism especially in teenagers guide them toward having friendship with opposite sex.
A year-old female stated: A participant mother mentioned: As another reason, not receiving emotional support from parents is effective in guiding the children toward having friendship with opposite sex. If this love and support is not answered, they will tend to have friendship with opposite sex to fill the emotional gap. Females believe that in the case of lack of emotional support from father, the girl will accept any type of emotional behavior from boys and also accept his request for sexual relationship.
This happens in young ages most of the times because the children are not yet mature enough. The females emphasized that they are even restricted on their behaviors with relatives. They said such behaviors have changed the boys as an unknown creature for them and girls start having opposite sex friendships at younger ages to know boys better.
Participants frequently focused on the children's freedom and lesser parental control in family situations. They believed that the reason to have opposite sex friendship is not enough investment by the parents on their children's freedom and amusement, along with the decrease of parental control which opens the way to have such relationships.
Participants said that parental control has decreased because both parents are working or the father has to work excessively to satisfy the economic needs of the family. A year-old male stated: It rarely happens that he can think of children's issues… he has no time to think about such issues…. Some of the participants referred to the importance of parental roles in maturing and nurturing children's personality. They believed that making a healthy personality is the main factor in prevention of unhealthy behaviors and premarital sexual relationships.
A year-old male said: Participants also referred to the economic status, beauty, and such matters. They said the girls who compare their family in different issues with their friend's family and see that theirs is in a weaker position think that the chances of getting married are little.
In this way, they attempt to have opposite sex relationships and even sexual relationship to add to their chance of marriage. In this regard, a psychologist said: They said that the gap of emotional needs which are caused in such families because of divorce, struggle, and conflicts makes the youths to start having opposite sex relationships. Mostly, girls in such cases attempt to have sexual relation to continue the relationship. They believed that youth's economic dependence on their parents has increased in comparison to the past.
This is because many more youths are interested in furthering their education at the universities. In so doing, their chance of having full-time or part-time jobs has decreased. The participants frequently mentioned the problem of youths wanting to satisfy their economic needs. The reason that families cannot allocate enough investments for youths is because of the existence of economic hardship for parents, extravagancy, excessive needs, and unexpected needs.
Participants believed that girls in our society are not that free in satisfying their economic needs in comparison to boys, and this makes them more dependent on their parents. Girls sometimes have to have friendship with several boys simultaneously.
In this case, they even have to accept boy's sexual request to prolong the friendship.