Engaging young people in advocacy, education & prevention
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The Let’s Talk Series #1 – WHY Talk to your teens about Sex?

January 8, 2010 2:46 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Heather O’Neill, coordinator for Straight Up’s Let’s Talk program, presents a series of helpful posts, resources, and articles on a regular basis for the Straight Up blog.

Teen sex is more prevalent than you think …

  • Approximately one out of every three ninth graders has had sexual intercourse at least once.1
  • The U.S. continues to have the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world.2
  • One out of seven high school students reports having had sex with four or more partners.3

Teen sex has physical and emotional consequences …

  • One in four teenage girls nationwide has a sexually transmitted disease (STD).4
  • The younger a teen starts having sex, the greater the risk of pregnancy. Almost half of all girls who have sex before age 15 will get pregnant.5
  • Research shows that teen sex can deflate self-esteem, erode optimism, and spoil the quality of intimate relationships.6
  • Sixty-six percent of teens who have had sex wish they had waited longer.7
  • Teens and young adults have the highest STD infection rate in the U.S., with 50 percent of all newly diagnosed STDs.8
  • Half of all new HIV infections occur among adolescents.9

Kids want to hear from their parents …

  • Teens rank parents as the number one influence on their sexual decisions.10
  • Eighty-eight percent of teens say it would be easier to avoid sexual activity if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents.11
  • Six out of ten teens say their parents are their role models for healthy, responsible relationships.12
    Parent-Child Communication about Sexuality Promotes Healthy Behaviors
  • In one study, when mothers discussed condom use before teens initiated sexual intercourse, youth were three times more likely to use condoms than were teens whose mothers never discussed condoms or discussed condoms only after teens became sexually active. Moreover, condom use at first intercourse significantly predicted future condom use—teens who used condoms at first intercourse were 20 times more likely than other teens to use condoms regularly and 10 times more likely to use them at most recent intercourse.13
  • A study found that teens who reported previous discussions of sexuality with parents were seven times more likely to feel able to communicate with a partner about HIV/AIDS than those who had not had such discussions with their parents.14
  • In another study, 19.2 percent of students said they would prefer to get information about contraception from their parents rather than from community health centers, classes, hospitals, private doctors, television, or friends (12.5, 12.0, 11.1, 8.8, 7.9, and 6.9 percent, respectively). Consistent users of contraception were also more likely to report frequent conversations with parents than were teens who were not using contraception.15
  • Studies show that when parents make consistent efforts to know their teen’s friends and whereabouts, the young people report fewer sexual partners, fewer coital acts, and more use of condoms and other forms of contraception.16,17
  • In a study of sexually active African American and Latino youth, when parents held skilled, open, interactive discussions with their teens about sex, the youth were significantly more likely than the teens of less skilled communicators to use condoms at most recent intercourse and across time.18

(Statistics by 4parents.gov, SADD.org, and advocatesforyouth.org.)

References at www.straightupvc.org/letstalk/whytalk.html