Learning Collaborative Measurement Project Summaries
Project summary
4 February 2021

The influence of family dynamics on adolescents’ sexual risk behaviour in a migration-affected community in South Africa

Author: Rebecca Justus
Published by: The Learning Collaborative to Advance Normative Change

Organizations involved

Applied Research for Community Development (ARCD); Research and Publication Committee (RPC) of the University of Venda; International Organization for Migration (IOM)


This assessment, conducted in 2019, used a sequential mixed method approach to explore and describe the influence of family dynamics on the deviant and sexual risk behaviour of adolescents (15-19 years old) in a migration-affected community in South Africa. This study was conducted in Thabazimbi, a mining community in the Waterberg District in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. The study explored the household dynamics of young people living in mining communities and the influence that this may have on their sexual risk behaviour. The study targeted local and migrant households living in close proximity (a 20 km radius) to the mining facilities and only focused on those who had lived in the community for more than six months.

Social norms of interest

Household dynamics; Sexual risk-taking

Behaviors of interest

Family unity; Parent-adolescent closeness; Sex education; Effective monitoring and control by adults

Project components

Purposive sampling method was used to identify suitable households for in-depth interviews. Parents and adolescents in the selected house were eligible for sampling, in order to understand the family dynamics from different perspectives. In-depth interviews were conducted first with the adolescents, followed by the adults.

Social norms measurement

In-depth interviews were conducted among parents and their adolescents. The main question asked was, “Can you tell me about your family?”. Additional questions were asked as a guide to further explore the family environment and its influence on adolescent sexual behavior. In order to build trust among adolescents and to encourage them to speak freely, the interviews were conducted in a sequence: the parents were interviewed before their children. Data was collected from 13 adolescents and 10 parents.

Key findings to date

Financial constraint was a major problem in this community, and the impact of this was worse felt among adolescents who lived by themselves. It was evident that some parents were delinquent, distant, or detached from their adolescents. Some parents were also in conflict with their spouses and evidently, this diminished parent-adolescent communication, making it almost impossible to control and monitor their adolescents. These challenges weakened the social support system that otherwise would have provided needed support and guidance to the adolescents in the community. It might be on this premise that the adolescents were lured into risky sexual behaviours.

Attribution statement

This paper is an original research that utilized primary data sourced directly from the index community. The instrument for the in-depth interview was developed along the lines of the objectives of the study.

Citation suggestion: Chima Anyanwu, F., Abayomi Akinsola, H., Tugli, A. K. and Obisie-Nmehielle, N. (2020) 'A qualitative assessment of the influence of family dynamics on adolescents’ sexual risk behaviour in a migration-affected community'. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 15:1 1717322.


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