(DES MOINES, IA) — 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.
The national poll, "Let’s Talk: Are Parents Tackling Crucial Conversations about Sex?" 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, and while 94 percent believe they are influential in whether their child uses condoms or other forms of birth control, only 60 percent are talking with their children about birth control.
This new finding underscores the importance of October’s Let’s Talk Month, which encourages parents to talk to their children about sex and sexual health.
"Across Iowa, we often hear from parents who say they are uncomfortable talking about the harder topics, such as birth control and how to say no, and that they could use help having these conversations," said Rhonda Ruby, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland Health Educator.
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.
- Ninety-three percent of parents feel confident about their ability to influence whether or not their child has sex. However, most of those same parents — 64 percent — say their own mothers and fathers did a poor job educating them 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 shows that parents are very concerned about keeping their kids safe and healthy. We also know from previous studies that young people whose parents effectively communicate about sex are more likely to delay sex, have fewer partners, and use contraception if they do have sex," Ruby said. "But they also need clear guidance on how to make conversations about sex with their adolescent children effective."
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is here for moms and dads to help them communicate effectively with their children about sexuality and sexual health. Last year we worked with more than 40,000 youth and parents in Iowa and Nebraska.
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 Aug, 23 to Aug. 29, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has served women and men of all ages in the Heartland since the 1930s. Today the agency offers a full range of quality reproductive health care services to residents in Nebraska and Iowa through 28 health centers and three Education and Resource Centers located in Des Moines, Lincoln and Omaha.