Over the last decade, the percentage of U.S. high school students who report having sexual intercourse has declined (Henshaw, 2003). Promisingly, the percent of U.S. teens surveyed also stated an increase in contraceptive use. Despite these positive trends, the United States still has one of the highest levels of teen pregnancy among developed countries and accounts for more than four million teens contracting sexually transmitted infections each year!
During President Bush’s 2000 campaign, he nearly tripled funding for abstinence-only education from 73 million in 2001 to 204 million in 2008 (Boonstra, 2010). In a 2007 study, paid for by the United States government, there was no evidence supporting a difference in the number of sex partners, how often birth control methods were used, and age of first intercourse, between youth that was taught abstinence-only and a control group that received no sexual education.
It is increasingly important that parents start teaching their children comprehensive sex education at home as they may not be receiving all the facts at school. So, why don’t more parents already initiate a thorough talk with their kids about the topic of sex? Recent studies have supported that it may not always be the lack of intention by the parents, rather the inability of their children to feel comfortable discussing the topic with their parents (Hyde, Carney, Drennan, Butler, Lohan & Howlett, 2010).
A 2010 study conducted in Ireland sought to understand what obstacles, if any, underlie how parents communicate with their children about sexuality (Hyde et al, 2010). They surveyed parents that were believed to be especially successful at discussing the topic of sex as these parents reported priding themselve...
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...k. Guttmacher Policy
Review, 13 (2) 27-28.
Compero, L., D. Walker, E. E. Atienzo & J. P. Gutierrez. 2011. A quasi-experimental evaluation of
parents as sexual health educators resulting in delayed sexual initiation and increased access to
condoms. Journal of Adolescence, 34 (2) 215-223.
Henshaw, S. K. 2003. U.S. teenage pregnancy statistics with comparative statistics for women aged
20-24. New York: The Alan Guttmacher Institute.
Hyde, A., M. Carney, J. Drennan, M. Butler, M. Lohan & E. Howlett. 2009. The silent treatment:
Parents’ narratives of sexuality education with young people. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 12 (4)
Jerman, P. & N. A. Constantine. 2010. Demographic and psychological predictors of parent-
adolescent communication about sex: A representative statewide analysis. Journal of
Youth & Adolescence, 39 (10) 1164-1174.
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