DiscussionThisstudy provides intuition into the operation of the risky and protective effectof older siblings on their younger high school adolescents in mekelle city.Thesame to other previous studies done in the western world, West Africa, andKenya, this study also shows adolescents perceptions of their older siblings’sexual behaviors were related to their own sexual behaviors. An adolescent whothought their older sibling was having sex showed an increased chance of havingrisky sexual behavior than those who don’t have an older sibling (AOR=1.93, 95%CI: (1.05, 3.
56)). This finding is steady with prior researchers which documentsimilarity in sexual activities among siblings (23-25).This sibling’s similarity might be due to the reason that younger siblings mayobserve their older siblings’ behaviors and sexual permissiveness andsubsequently use this knowledge as a point of reference in shaping their ownbehaviors.
This result was supported by the qualitative study. Most of theinterviews thought that, having a sexually active older sibling give an easyopportunity to younger siblings to compare themselves and engage at an earlyage and have multiple sexual partners without having enough knowledge onappropriate condom use. A comparative process with older siblings’ behavior andloosen parental control on younger siblings sexual behavior was among theraised ways on how this effect works.Howeverthe odds was smaller than the studies done in Rhode Island (AOR= 3.72, CI 95%:(1.37–10.09)) (23),US Philadelphia (AOR=2.3, CI:95%, (1.
27, 3.55)) (24)and data from Kenya (AOR= 5.66CI:95%: (3.4, 7.
8)) (25).This difference might be due to societal values difference among the studyareas and possible variance in communication habit on sexuality-related issueswith the family members especially relationship with an older sibling.Thisstudy also reveals that high school adolescents’ perceptions that their oldersibling is not having sex may be a protective factor from exposure to riskysexual activity as compared to those adolescents without an older sibling(AOR=0.59, 95% CI: (0.30, 0.
92)). This result suggests that older siblings canplay a more beneficial role in their younger siblings and it is consistent withsocial learning theory(26)and previous siblings research (10, 23, 25)which suggest that indirect learning from an older sibling is one mechanismthrough which adolescents’ form expectancies about health risk behaviors andstrengthen the idea that, older siblings can shape younger adolescents’ sexualbehaviors and potentially impact the transition to adulthood. This finding wasalso supported by the qualitative study. Participant’s agreed that thepossibility of younger siblings to follow their older sibling’s behavior ishigh. They also agreed that Youngers would be benefited if they recognize theirelders as an important source of information on sexual and reproductive healthissues. Concerningadolescents relationship quality, this study shows that adolescents who wereless intimated with their older sibling were more likely to have risky sexualbehavior as compared to those who were more intimate with their older sibling(AOR=2.
24, 95% CI: (1.26, 3.98)). This finding is in agreement with data’s fromMexico and Missouri-Colombia (27, 28).This might be due to the reason that positive relationship qualities, such aswarmth and closeness with older sibling give an opportunity to discuss sexualissues freely and share important and protective behaviors from an oldersibling. On the other hand, negative relationship quality, such as rivalry,competition, and conflict leave adolescents clueless on such issues which mightincrease younger adolescent’s likelihood to risky sexual behavior.
Thisfinding was strongly supported by almost all participants in the in-depthinterview. They agreed that adolescents who perceived positive relationshipswith their elders might have the opportunities to develop better social skillsand receive a higher level of emotional support from their elder’s experiencesthrough the positive social interactions with their siblings. They also agreedthat this interaction allows them to have an easy access to trusted andaccurate information on sexuality-related issues which prevent them from arisky sexual activity.Inthis study, male students were found to be riskier in their sexual behaviorthan female students (AOR= 2.24, 95% CI: (1.
26, 3.98)). This result wasSupported by studies done in Ibadan-Nigeria (AOR= 1.11, 95% CI: 1.
0, 1.72) anddifferent Studies in Ethiopia which strengthen, males were (2.28 – 5.6) timeshigher to experience risky sexual practice as compared to females (29-31).This might be as a result of cultural and societal defined gender roles whichgive more sexual power to male. These gender norms such as men’s sexual desireare “irrepressible” play a significant role in encouraging males tomultiple sexual partnerships and increased pre-marital sex frequency.
ConclusionDespitethese limitations, a finding from this study contributes to the adolescent’sliterature especially in magnifying the researcher’s lens on possiblepredictors of adolescent’s sexual behavior. A considerable proportion ofadolescents were engaged in the risky sexual behavior and perceptions that anolder sibling is not having sex and high sibling’s intimacy may serve asprotective factors, however, having sexually active older sibling can increasehigh school adolescent’s likelihood to risky sexual behavior. So Familiesshould realize that elders can affect the younger adolescent’s behavior andshould be included in family strategies and must give responsibility to eldersto protect the younger and enhancing sibling’s relationship together withimproving parent-youths connectedness and control..