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Kids and Sex Ed

Pushing past "awkward" to convey what kids need to know

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Looking at the statistics however, one wonders how many parents are having these conversations. According to the Guttmacher Institute's Facts on American Teens' Sources of Information about Sex, most teens initiate sex in their late teen years and most sexually experienced teens did not receive formal instruction about contraception before they initiated sex. While this doesn't mean that parents aren't talking to their kids about sex, it could mean that we need to get better at it.

Beyond school sex ed

Many parents let the topic of sex education become the responsibility of their child's school. Dr. McCarthy is adamant however, that sex education is not a substitute for parent-child conversations. "While they supplement and often say things that parents can't say, kids need to hear things from their parents." Parents can share family moral and religious beliefs as well their expectations about these issues, says Dr. Scott Curnow, Indianapolis pediatrician. "Schools do a fabulous job, but often they fit in only the cursory changes of puberty and personal relationships. Parents can go into more depth." Parents should cover the emotional aspects of having sex, mutual sexual respect, sexual orientation and abstinence.

When parents put in the time to address these topics with their kids, their messages do stick. Research shows that teens who talk to their parents about sex postpone sexual activity – especially risky behavior. Studies also show that parents are more influential in their children's attitudes about sex than any other person.

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Tags: Featured Article, Featured Article, In This Issue, Parenting

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