Parent-Child Communication: Promoting Sexually Healthy Youth (page 2)

By — Advocates For Youth
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

Parent-Child Communication about Sex Varies by Race/Ethnicity and Gender.

  • In one study, just over 54 percent of students reported discussing HIV with their parents. Percentages varied little by race/ethnicity (white, 54.1; African American, 55.7; Latino, 54.5; other, 55.5 percent) but varied significantly by gender (females, 59.7; males 49.2 percent).(13)
  • In another study, African American female adolescents reported more discussions about sex-related topics with their mothers than did male adolescents. Although fewer male teens talked about sex-related topics with fathers, mothers, or friends, males were just as likely to talk with mothers as with friends and only slightly less likely to talk with fathers.(14)
  • A study of urban African American and Latino mothers and their pre-teen and early adolescent daughters found many mothers reluctant to discuss more than biological issues and negative consequences of sexual activity. Maternal communications about sex, often restrictive and moralistic in tone, deterred daughters from confiding in their mothers. Daughters, in reaction, sometimes became secretly involved in romantic relationships.(15)
  • In a study of African American and Latino adolescents, a significantly greater percentage of Latino teens than African American teens reported discussing at least two sex-related topics—HIV/AIDS and choosing a sex partner—with their father. Latino teens were also twice as likely as African American teens to discuss choosing a sex partner with their mother.(16)

To read the rest of this article, including statistics on the number of parents discussing sex with their teens, click


  1. Resnick MD et al. Protecting adolescents from harm: findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. JAMA 1997;278:823-32.
  2. Steinberg L. We know some things: parent-adolescent relationships in retrospect and prospect. J Research Adolesc 2001; 11:1-19.
  3. Phinney JS, Chavira V. Parental ethic socialization and adolescent coping with problems related to ethnicity. J Research Adolesc 1995; 5:31-53.
  4. Cummins JR et al. Correlates of physical and emotional health among Native American adolescents. J Adolesc Health 1999;24:38-44.
  5. Crosby RA et al. HIV/STD-protective benefits of living with mothers in perceived supportive families: a study of high-risk African American female teens. Preventive Med 2001;33:175-8.
  6. Paley B et al. Parents' affect, adolescent cognitive representations, and adolescent social development. J Marriage Fam 2000; 62:761-76.
  7. Miller KS et al. Patterns of condom use among adolescents: the impact of mother-adolescent communication. Am J Public Health 1998;88:1542-44.
  8. Shoop DM, Davidson PM. AIDS and adolescents: the relation of parent and partner communication to adolescent condom use. J Adolesc 1994;17:137-48.
  9. Hacker KA et al. Listening to youth: teen perspectives on pregnancy prevention. J Adolesc Health 2000;26:279-88.
  10. Jemmott LS, Jemmott JB. Family structure, parental strictness, and sexual behavior among inner-city black male adolescents. J Adolesc Research 1992; 7:192-207.
  11. Rodgers KB. Parenting processes related to sexual risk-taking behaviors of adolescent males and females. J Marriage Fam 1999;61:99-109.
  12. Whitaker DJ et al. Teenage partners' communication about sexual risk and condom use: the importance of parent-teenager discussions. Fam Plann Perspect 1999;31:117-21.
  13. Holtzman D, Rubinson R. Parent and peer communication effects on AIDS-related behavior among U. S. high school students. Fam Plann Perspect 1995; 27:235-40+.
  14. DiLorio C et al. Communication about sexual issues: mothers, fathers and friends. J Adolesc Health 1999;24:181-9.
  15. O'Sullivan LF et al. Mother-daughter communication about sex among urban African American and Latino families. J Adolesc Research 2001;16:269-92.
  16. Miller KS et al. Family communication about sex: what are parents saying and are their adolescents listening? Fam Plann Perspect 1998;30:218-22+.
  17. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation & YM Magazine. National Survey of Teens: Teens Talk about Dating, Intimacy, and Their Sexual Experiences. Menlo Park, CA: The Foundation, 1998.
  18. Yowell CM. Risks of communication: early adolescent girls' conversations with mothers and friends about sexuality. J Early Adolesc 1997;17:172-96.
  19. Hickman-Brown Public Opinion Research. Public Support for Sexuality Education. [Poll conducted for Advocates for Youth & SIECUS]. Washington, DC: Advocates, 1999.
View Full Article
Add your own comment
DIY Worksheets
Make puzzles and printables that are educational, personal, and fun!
Matching Lists
Quickly create fun match-up worksheets using your own words.
Word Searches
Use your own word lists to create and print custom word searches.
Crossword Puzzles
Make custom crossword puzzles using your own words and clues.