Parents Matter: The Role of Parents in Teens’ Decisions About Sex

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Child Trends

A new study of the relationship between parental roles and teen decisions on sex revealed that the two are highly correlated when it comes to delayed sexual behaviors of teenagers. According to this brief, recent national polls found that 47 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds said their parents had the most influence on their decision about sex. Parents were found to be less aware of their influence on their teens, as 34 percent of parents surveyed said they were not the most influential in terms of decision about sex.

The study found that a healthy relationship between parents and adolescents in terms of quality, communication and monitoring, as well as parents’ keen awareness of what is going on in the adolescent’s life, is related to a delayed sexual initiation and thus, a lower risk of teen pregnancy. Teenage girls who had higher quality relationships with parents and teenage boys who ate dinner with their families daily were less likely to have sex before age 16, while girls with lower quality parental relations and boys who ate dinner with their families less than four times a week were more likely to have sex at an earlier age. Teens whose parents were aware of their daily activities were found to be less likely to have sex before age 16.

The findings suggest parental involvement in programs serving youth, for example, getting parents involved in sex education programs that do not include them. Free, seven pages. http://www.childtrends.org/Files//Child_Trends-2009_11_11_RB_Parents&TeenSex.pdf.