Talking About Sex: Teens Less Comfortable Than Parents
Think that parents are the only ones who get stressed when talking to their teens about sex and relationships? Think again.
Just over 50 percent of moms and dads express some level of unease, compared to 82 percent of teens, a survey out today finds.
And on issues such as how to say no to sex, teen pregnancy and sexting, nearly 90 percent of teens say they don't want additional discussions with their parents. And one in six say their parents have never spoken to them about anything sex-related.
The findings, from a nationally representative survey of 2,000 parents and their kids ages 15-18, also show that being comfortable does not guarantee being informed: 81 percent of those who have sexually active teens know that their teens have had intercourse. But only 45 percent of those whose teens said they have had oral sex knew it.
Parents may underestimate their teen's sexual activity, but overall the new findings show that parents consider talking about sexual health an important part of their parenting job, says Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The health care provider and advocacy group co-sponsored the survey, along with the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health at New York University and Family Circle magazine, as part of the nationwide Let's Talk Month campaign.
According to the survey's findings:
- 42 percent of parents say they've talked to their teens "many times" about how to say no to sex. But just 27 percent of teens say parents have talked that often.
- 48 percent of parents say they've talked "many times" to their teens about when sex should or shouldn't take place; 29 percent of teens agreed.
- 29 percent of parents say they've talked "many times" to their teens about birth control methods; 35 percent of teens say their parents "never" or just "once" discussed the issue.
- 39 percent of parents say they've discussed the risks of sexting (sending sexually explicit text messages); 41 percent of teens say their parents "never" or "just once" discussed the issue.