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Sexual health How parents teach

Knowing the facts can help you talk with young people about sexual health.

Parents can make a difference
• Parents underestimate how much they influence their children’s decision making. Adolescents ages 12-14 cite parents as most influential force in their decisions.1

Helping children postpone sexual intercourse
• When mothers talk with young people about sexuality, and their conversations include topics such as birth control, condoms, and reproduction, those young people are more likely to delay sexual intercourse and use protection when they do have sex.2

Sharing your values
• Only 23 percent of parents report having talked with their teenage children about when a teen may be ready to have a sexual relationship.3

Let your child know you’re willing to talk
• Teens often don’t discuss sexual issues with their parents because they worry that their parents will disapprove or will assume that they are already having sex if they discuss the subject with them.4

• One in six young people say that occasionally having sex without a condom is not a big deal.5

Sexually transmitted infections
• Of the 15 million people who contract sexually transmitted infections each year, one-fourth are teenagers. Many of these young people suffer long-term health problems as a consequence of their infection.6

Words Can Work: When Talking With Kids About Sexual Health
Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General, and Dr. Paula Rauch, Chief of the Pediatric Consultation Service at Massachusetts General Hospital, offer tips on talking with kids. You’ll see how you can encourage your children to come to you with their questions and concerns.

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1. Adapted from The National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, With One Voice, America’s Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy, National Survey, December 2003.
2. Miller KS, Levin ML, Whitaker DJ, Xu X, “Patterns of Condom Use Among Adolescents: The impact of maternal-adolescent communication,” American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 88, pp. 1542-1544, 1998.
3. Adapted from Talking with Kids about Tough Issues, Kaiser Family Foundation/Children Now National Surveys: Menlo Park, CA, Kaiser Family Foundation, 1997.
4. “Communication,” SexSmarts Survey, Kaiser Family Foundation/Seventeen Magazine, July 2002.
5. National Survey of Adolescents and Young Adults: Sexual Health Knowledge, Attitudes and Experiences, Menlo Park, CA, Kaiser Family Foundation, May 2003.
6. Kaiser Family Foundation, 1998.

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