New survey results highlight the need for parents to be direct and specific with their children.
(New Haven, Conn.) — October marks Let’s Talk Month, which is aimed at getting families talking about sexuality and relationships. This year Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) is encouraging parents to go beyond “the talk” and have ongoing conversations throughout their children’s lives about critical topics that can help young people make healthy decisions.
“Parents need to be direct and specific when discussing topics of sexuality with their children, and they need to start before they become sexually active,” said Judy Tabar President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “These conversations should be ongoing and reflect their child’s age. Pop culture, like television shows you both watch, can be a way to continually introduce these topics of sexuality into family discussions.”
Planned Parenthood and New York University’s Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health surveyed parents and their children aged 9-21 to investigate how families communicate about sexuality and relationships. The 2014 Let’s Talk Month survey shows that while most parents are talking about sexuality and relationships with their children, too many are not talking often enough or in enough detail. For example:
- Over 20 percent of parents have never talked with their teen about strategies for saying no to sex, birth control methods or where to get accurate sexual health information. Over 30 percent of parents have never talked with their teens about where to get reproductive health care services. These are crucial topics for parents to discuss with their teens.
- The majority of parents (61 percent) report wanting young people to wait to have sex until they are ready to handle the responsibilities that come from having a sexual relationship — far more than those who support waiting until marriage (45 percent). However, only 52 percent of parents report ever talking about these values explicitly with their child. Parents need to more clearly communicate their values to their children.
- Parents tend to know when their teens are having sexual intercourse, but not when they are having oral sex. Among teens and young adults 15-21 who reported having vaginal sex, 91 percent of their parents knew. However, among those reporting having oral sex, only 40 percent of their parents knew. It’s important that parents ask clear, direct questions so they know what’s going on in their teens’ lives instead of guessing.
“The 2014 Let’s Talk Month survey reveals that it is important that parents ask clear, direct questions about relationships and sexual activity so they know what is happening in their child’s life and can share their own values just as clearly,” said Tabar.
Planned Parenthood is here to help parents and their children talk more often and more in-depth about the things that matter. Parents can make a real difference in their teen’s sexual decision making by talking about whether or not their teen is ready for a sexual relationship and why; emotions that accompany having sex; what to expect from sexual relationships; and the advantages and disadvantages of having sex. PPSNE is committed to making sure that parents can address these important elements of decision making with their children, as well as their own beliefs and values about sexuality and relationships.
At PPSNE, the Real Life. Real Talk. education program provides parents the tools and information to talk with their children about sex and sexuality. Real Life. Real Talk. is a 90-minute parent/child communication program to help caregivers build skills around sexuality and sexual health so that they feel comfortable imparting medically accurate, age-appropriate and developmentally-targeted information to their children.
The public is invited to attend the following Real Life. Real Talk. sessions:
- Saturday, November 1, 11 AM
Gateway Community College
20 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510
- Tuesday, November 4, 5:30 PM
Windham Middle School (Spanish language session)
123 Quarry Street
Willimantic, CT 06226
- Thursday, November 6, 6 PM
New Haven Free Public Library
133 Elm Street
New Haven, CT 06510
- Monday, November 10, 6 PM
Knight Memorial Library
275 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
- Wednesday, November 12, 5:30 PM
Windham Middle School
123 Quarry Street
Willimantic, CT 06226
- Monday, November 24, 6 PM
Mt. Pleasant Library (Spanish language session)
315 Academy Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of sex education, offers education programs for young people and parents across the country. In 2013, Planned Parenthood provided education and outreach to 1.5 million people of all ages across the country. Every day, Planned Parenthood works in schools and communities to provide comprehensive sex education programs, which both parents and teens overwhelmingly support.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England works every day to provide high-quality, teen-friendly services and sexuality education programs, including Students Teaching About Responsible Sexuality (STARS) – a high school peer education group – hosting educational workshops, Teen Talk – a multi-session program that deals with teen specific issues – and Teen Clinics, a once-a-month teens only clinic. The health educators and trainers of PPSNE facilitate over 400 education programs annually, and last year we reached almost 6,900 teens, parents and other adults in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) is one of the region’s largest providers of family planning and reproductive health care services. Since 1923, PPSNE has evolved into an organization with 18 health centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, delivering care to nearly 70,000 patients annually, and 90 percent of the services provided are preventive.