How to talk to teens about sex

By Rebekah Andrews

This article was originally published on the City Journal.

A new study has emerged out of the US, suggesting that teens have safer sex at 21 if their parents give them the sex talk multiple times over their teen years.

Professor Laura Padilla-Walker is the lead researcher of the study from Brigham Young University.

She says that we need to find a better way of educating adolescents, because it currently isn’t enough.

“Research suggests that parents can be an effective means of teaching their children about sexuality in a developmentally appropriate manner, but that does not occur if parents only have a single, uncomfortable, often one-sided talk.”

By having an ongoing conversation with their child, parents have better relationships with their children, who have a safer attitude towards sex.

According to a La Trobe University survey in 2014, 36 per cent of high school students in Australia talk to their mothers first with questions of sex and relationships, behind only 41 per cent who consult a female friend.

For young people, becoming educated about sex begins at home, with this new study suggesting that sex education at home could be better.

They evaluated 468 teenagers with their mothers, and 311 with their fathers over 10 years, in order to explore sexual communication within those families.

What they found was low levels of communication, and even lower from the perspective of the teenager.

“Parents should talk frequently with their children about many aspects of sexuality in a way that helps the child to feel comfortable and heard, but never shamed,” said Professor Padilla-Walker.

In Victoria, sex education may be compulsory in schools, but this doesn’t fix the problem of how parents are teaching their children at home.

(Featured image: Sex education for teens begins at home, with a new study suggesting this conversation needs to be ongoing. Photo: Rebekah Andrews) 


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