Half of teens feel uncomfortable talking about sex with parents | Health
A new nationwide survey released this month shows that while most parents and teens talk about sex, teens are less comfortable than their parents having these conversations, and parents need to talk more about how their teens can prevent pregnancy and STDs.
The survey, which is one of the first to question a large number of parents and teens (2,000) from the same households, was commissioned by Planned Parenthood, Family Circle magazine and the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) at New York University.
Half of all teens feel uncomfortable talking with their parents about sex compared to just 19 percent of parents who feel uncomfortable talking with their teens, according to the survey, which is the first to reveal that parents are much more at ease than their teens when it comes to discussing sex.
The survey findings are detailed in "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Sex Talk (But Were Afraid to Ask)," a feature in the November issue of Family Circle. The report was unveiled in tandem with Let's Talk Month, an annual awareness-raising effort aimed at getting parents and teens talking about sex and providing parents with tools for making these conversations more effective.
"This survey shows that parents and teens have very different perceptions about how often they're talking about sex and what's being said during those talks," said Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
"Parents think they're giving nuanced advice, but their teens are just hearing directives. We're offering tips that can help parents talk with their teens in a way that resonates and helps them make smart choices about relationships and sex," said Kantor.
The report finds that while 42 percent of parents say they've talked to their teens "many times" about how to say no to sex, only 27 percent of teens agree.
In fact, 34 percent of teens say they've "never" or "only once" talked with their mom or dad about how to delay sex. Moreover, only small percentages of teens said they plan to discuss these or other sex-related topics with parents in the future.
"As parents, we want to protect our teens and keep them healthy, and I believe that includes talking with them about relationships and about sex so that they don't feel pressured into it before they're ready and so they know how to prevent pregnancy and STDs when they are ready," said actor Cynthia Nixon, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood's 2012 Let's Talk Month campaign.
"That's why I'm encouraging parents to have these conversations with their teens," said Nixon.
The survey also shows that among teens who've had intercourse, most of their parents (81 percent) knew it; while only 45 percent of parents knew that their teen had had oral sex.
These findings underscore the continued importance of conversations between teens and parents once teens start having sex, as parents play a critical role in helping their teens protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and STDs.
Your local Planned Parenthood affiliate Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region also offers education and resources for parents. Our health educators are happy to set up workshops for groups of parents and teens or church or after-school groups. Call 901-725-3014 to find out more or set up an education session.