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Hempstead, NY— 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. As part of Let’s Talk Month, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County will be highlighting the importance of parent/child communication through workshops and public education. PPNC’s Spanish-speaking peer educators will be conducting outreach and providing culturally-appropriate information on parent/child communication to Latino parents at our Glen Cove health center on October 24. In addition, our educators will be conducting several workshops that give parents the tools they need to talk to their children about puberty. PPNC will also be using social media to promote Let’s Talk Month.

“We often hear from parents in Nassau County 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 JoAnn D. Smith, PPNC’s President & CEO “That’s why Let’s Talk Month is so crucial.  We can help parents in our community lay the groundwork early and talk to their kids often and openly.”

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,” said Ms. Smith.  “But they also need clear guidance on how to make conversations about sex with their adolescent children effective."

Planned Parenthood of Nassau County is here for moms and dads to help them communicate effectively with their children about sexuality and sexual health. We offer a number of workshops for parents and caregivers that teach everything from basic anatomy to how to share family values about sex and promote good decision-making. These programs are provided in English and Spanish and can be scheduled by calling PPNC at 516-750-2650.

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.


Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, Inc.


November 30, 2011


June 25, 2015