Contact: Laura Alpert
October 14, 2014
(518) 512-9027, (cell) (518) 464-4479
Albany, NY — October marks Let’s Talk Month, aimed at getting families talking about sexuality and relationships. Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (UHPP) is encouraging parents to go beyond “the talk” and instead 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 UHPP President/CEO Chelly Hegan. “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 aren’t talking often enough or in enough detail. For example:
- Over 20% 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% of parents have never talked with their teen about where to get reproductive health care services. These are crucial topics for parents to discuss with their teens.
- The majority of parents (61%) 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 support waiting until marriage (45%). However, only 52% 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% of their parents knew. However, among those reporting having oral sex, only 40% of their parents knew. It’s important that parents ask clear, direct questions so they know what’s going on in their teen’s lives instead of guessing.
“The 2014 Let’s Talk Month survey reveals that it’s 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 UHPP Director of Education Meaghan Carroll.
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. We are 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. PlannedParenthood.org has resources, guidance, videos, and apps designed to make starting and continuing these conversations easier and richer.
- Resources for parents at PlannedParenthood.org/Parents include a tips video, educational videos in English and Spanish for talking about specific issues, tip sheets, and guidance for talking with children of all ages about a variety of topics.
- For middle schoolers, there are quizzes to help children set an intention to wait to have sex until they’re ready, called What’s Your Love Personality? and Where Do You Stand?. A game called The Kickback helps middle schoolers practice saying no to sex and other types of peer pressure like being offered drugs and alcohol. What’s Your Future Plan?. helps them think through how becoming a teen parent could affect their future plans.
- For older teens, we offer games and quizzes to help teens set an intention to start and keep using both birth control and condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs when they do become sexually active, called Been There, Done That and It Takes Two. My Birth Control is a quiz to help pick a birth control method, which teens and their parents can look through together to learn about some of the best birth control options when ready.
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.
October 14, 2014