When it comes to sex, what are teens really thinking?
Teens crave privacy and often roll their eyes when told what to do and can also at times be less than truthful. These common teenage behaviors can make parents feel powerless when it comes to being able to positively influence their teens.
A 2011 survey showed teens are engaging in risky behavior. Of the high school students surveyed, 47% of U.S. high school students have had sexual intercourse, 15.3% had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their life and 22.1% of those students who were currently sexually active had drunk alcohol or used drugs before their last sexual intercourse. (1)
Concerned moms and dads can breathe a sigh of relief though because parents do have the power to influence their teens’ decision making. Most importantly, teens say parents do matter -- a lot!
Research cited in Reducing the Risk: Connections That Make A Difference in the Lives of Youth says: Independent of race, ethnicity, family structure and poverty status, adolescents who are connected to their parents, to their families, and to their school community are healthier than those who are not. (2) This means overall closeness between parents and their children -shared activities, parental presence in the home, and parental caring and concern - are all associated with a reduction in risk behaviors. Teens back that research!
A National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy 2010 survey showed 46% of teens continue to say that parents most influence their decisions about sex, 80% say that it would be much easier to delay sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversation about these topics and just over 60% of teens and adults agree that the primary reason teens don’t use contraception is because they are afraid that their parents will find out. However, most parents say that if they learned that their teen was using contraception, they would be unhappy that they were having sex but happy that their teen was using contraception. (3)
(1) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System: 2011 National Overview, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health.
(2) Blum, R.W. & Rinehart, P.M. (1998) Reducing the Risk: Connectons that make a difference in the lives of youth. Center for Adolescent Health and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.
(3) http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/pubs/wov_2010.pdf With One Voice 2010: America’s Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy. National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. 2010.