Communicating with Teens about Sex: Facts, Findings, and Suggestions
Where do Teens get their Information about Sex?
Although teens and parents may communicate cooperatively about certain topics, if you were to ask a group of 13-18 year-olds the question, "Do you discuss sex openly with your parents?" You may be surprised at the low number of "yes" answers you hear.
Still, there's the 50-60% of teens who don't discuss sex with their parents. If these teens are not talking with their parents about sex, then who are they talking to? Sex education should not just be the responsibility of schools, communities, or the media4. Middle schoolers (6th to 8th graders) want to learn more factual information in their sex education classes - as well as practical advice on how to apply the information they've learned5. Most parents (95% in a study of 4,000 parents of school-aged youth) agree that responsibility for sex education should be shared by the school and the home6. Because school and community values may differ, the best sexual health education begins at home. There are many benefits to parents and teens discussing sex including7:
- Parents can communicate their own values on sexuality with their teens.
- Parents can better understand their teens perspective.
- Parents can tailor the information they share based on their understanding of their teenagers stage of development, life experience, personality, and knowledge level.
Barriers to Parent/Adult-Teen Communication about Sex
So, how do we explain the other half of teens who don't talk openly about sex with their parents? The main reason teens and parents or adults don't discuss sex is embarrassment8. Another reason is that parents think teens are more informed about sex than they actually are--and may even think that their teens know more about sex than they, as parents, do9! Although teens tend to feel confident in what they know about sex, when tested, their actual knowledge is low10. Adolescents want to be treated as adults, but may feel talked down to when discussing sex with parents or other adults. Teens may not talk about sex with their parents because they see parents as close-minded, uncompassionate, or not clued in to the problems todays teens face11.
Reprinted with the permission of the University of Florida. © 2008 University of Florida.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- Social Cognitive Theory
- The Homework Debate
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- First Grade Sight Words List
- Graduation Inspiration: Top 10 Graduation Quotes