Boston, MA — Eighty-two percent of parents have talked to their children about topics related to sex and sexuality, according to a new poll released today. However, when it comes to the tougher, more complicated topics, many adolescents are not getting the support they need to delay sex and prevent pregnancy.
A nationally representative sample of 1,111 parents took the poll, “Let’s Talk: Are Parents Tackling Crucial Conversations about Sex?” which shows that parents talk to their kids about a wide range of sexuality-related topics, including relationships (92 percent) and their own values about when sex should or should not take place (87 percent).
However, fewer parents are talking with their kids about tougher, more complicated topics. Only 74 percent are talking about how to say no to sex. Only 60 percent are talking with their children about birth control despite the fact that 94 percent believe they are influential in whether their child uses condoms or other forms of birth control.
This new finding underscores the importance of October’s Let’s Talk Month, which is a month-long public awareness campaign that seeks to encourage parents to talk to their children about sex and sexual health. Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) will conduct 15 parent workshops throughout the month of October as part of its parent education programs, Let’s Be Honest and Seamos Honestos.
Let’s Be Honest empowers parents and trusted caregivers of youth to take the lead role in educating their children about sex and sexuality by providing them with useful tools, information and available resources. The Seamos Honestos parent education program is available in Spanish in Western Massachusetts. These programs are offered year round and collectively reach some 2,500 parents annually through workshops at community organizations, home talks, and corporate brown bag lunches.
“We often hear from parents in Massachusetts who express how grateful they are to have our support, guidance, and expertise when speaking to their children about sex and sexuality,” said Jen Slonaker, Vice President of Education and Training. “Let’s Talk Month gives health providers, educators and public health advocates a platform to deliver these important messages about parent-child communication and the critical role it plays in children’s’ sexual health and well-being.”
The nationally representative survey commissioned by the national office of Planned Parenthood and the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) at the Silver School of Social Work at NYU, conducted by Knowledge Networks, also found that:
· Forty-three percent of parents say they feel very comfortable talking with their children about sex and sexual health. However, 57 percent say they only feel somewhat comfortable or uncomfortable talking to their children about sex and sexual health.
· Parents overwhelmingly support sex education programs in high school and middle school, and believe that they should cover a range of topics, including birth control.
“This poll also supports the need for school-based programs like Get Real, our comprehensive sexuality education curriculum designed for middle and high school aged youth,” said Slonaker. “Get Real has reached over 28,000 young people and, according to preliminary results from a third-party evaluation, the curriculum is working. After just one year, students enrolled in Get Real were 40% less likely to report that they had sex. Like our parent education programs, Get Real engages and supports parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children."
PPLM is here for parents, caregivers, and professionals to help them communicate effectively with children about sexuality and sexual health. PPLM offers Let’s Be Honest and Seamos Honestos parent workshops and periodic e-newsletters for parents; the Get Real curriculum, which is currently used by 112 schools; and a professional training program designed to help educators, social workers, and other professionals who work with youth to develop the skills and awareness it takes to be effective sexuality educators.
The “Let’s Talk: Are Parents Tackling Crucial Conversations about Sex?” poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks, is a probability-based random sample recruited and maintained by Knowledge Networks and represents 97 percent of U.S households. A random stratified nationally representative sample of 1,111 parents of children aged 10–18 was selected from panel participants. The poll was conducted from August 23 to August 29, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent.
For more information about PPLM and our Education Programs, visit www.pplm.org