Most Parents Believe Their Children Have Never Had Sex Although Data Shows 50% Sexually Active, Survey Says
About 84% of parents do not believe that their teenage children have ever had sex, but CDC data show that almost 50% of ninth- through 12th-graders ages 14 to 18 are sexually active, according to a survey released on Wednesday by the Society for Adolescent Medicine, Reuters reports. The national survey of 1,600 mothers and fathers found that about 90% of parents said they had talked about sex with their children, with most saying that such discussions began by age 12. In addition, 75% of parents said they had talked to their children about sexually transmitted diseases (Reuters, 8/12). According to the survey, HIV/AIDS was the "most common" STD that parents reported discussing with their children -- 88% of parents who discussed STDs with their children said they discussed HIV/AIDS (SAM release, 8/11). Vaughn Rickert of SAM said, "While children are young, parents feel confident that they have control over their health and well-being," adding, "As the child enters his or her teen years, parents may feel less connected and unaware of all he or she is doing." Rickert added, "As such, it is important for parents to have a dialogue with their adolescent regularly to ensure their teen remains healthy and happy through the high school years."
Study of African-American Girls
African-American girls who have high self-esteem are better able to refuse unwanted sexual activity or sex without a condom, according to a study published in the September issue of the journal Prevention Science, Reuters reports. Study author Laura Salazar of Emory University studied 335 sexually active African-American girls. Salazar asked the girls if they agreed or disagreed with the statements, "I feel that I have a number of good qualities" or "I feel a strong attachment toward black people." The study showed that girls who had higher self-esteem were more likely to refuse unwanted sex or sex without a condom and were less likely to be infected with sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, syphilis and gonorrhea. "What we found was African-American girls with a stronger self-concept were better able to communicate with their sex partners, and subsequently better at refusing to have unwanted, unprotected sex," she said. Salazar concluded that parents and educators should work to help increase African-American girls' self-esteem (Reuters, 8/12).