A new poll shows parents may be talking to their kids about sex in general — but when it comes to the details, they're falling short.
According to the poll, commissioned by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Latino and Adolescent Family Health, 92% of parents talk to their kids about relationships, and 87% share "their own values about when sex should or should not take place." However, just 74% talk to their kids about how to say no if sex should not in fact take place. And while 94% think they're influential in their children's birth control decisions, only 60% actually talk to their kids about birth control. Unless they're leaving a pack of condoms within easy reach (and more power to them if they are!), their non-verbal influence may not have much effect. Says Leslie Kantor of Planned Parenthood,
Contrary to common stereotypes, most mothers and fathers are talking to their kids about sexuality and sexual health. However, the survey shows that some parents are still uncomfortable talking about harder topics, such as birth control and how to say no, and can use help having these conversations.
These findings shouldn't be shocking to anyone who has kids — or who had parents. It's a lot easier to blurt out "don't have sex, okay?" and have done with it than to actually discuss what kids should do to prevent pregnancy and STDs. It's not all parents' fault — it's gross when Mom and Dad try to talk to you about sex-things, and it's grosser the more specific they get. One solution is for parents to just suck it up and have The Talk, with details. But schools can also help. As every teenager knows, sex ed is when you crack up because your teacher said "testes." But it's also when you learn things, things that might be easier to hear from someone who didn't give birth to you. Parents know this, which is why 90% of them, according to the poll, think high-schoolers should get comprehensive sex ed that teaches about both abstinence and birth control. Unfortunately, only 10 states and DC currently teach kids about preventing pregnancy as part of sex ed. It's time for the rest of the states to step up.
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