Eighty-two percent of parents have talked to their children about topics related to sex and sexuality, according to a new poll co-commissioned by the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
However, a smaller proportion of parents are comfortable conversing with their children about more complex topics, such as how to say no to sex (74 percent), or about whether or not to use condoms or other forms of birth control (60 percent), according to the poll.
The poll, titled “Let’s Talk: Are Parents Tackling Crucial Conversations about Sex?,” was released on October 3, and is a nationally representative survey of parents, measuring their comfort level and attitudes with regard to talking to their children about sex.
Professor Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, an expert on the role of families in promoting adolescent health, and co-director of CLAFH, assisted in the analysis and interpretation of the data and findings generated by the poll of 1,111 fathers and mothers of children, aged 10 to 18.
“This poll shows that parents are very concerned about keeping their kids safe and healthy,” said Guilamo-Ramos. “We also know from previous studies that young people whose parents effectively communicate about sex are more likely to delay sex, have fewer partners, and use contraception if they do have sex. It’s clear that it is extremely important for parents to lay the groundwork early, and talk to their kids often and openly. Parents need clear guidance on how to make conversations about sex with their adolescent children effective.”
Leslie Kantor, national director of education for Planned Parenthood, said, “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.”
CLAFH has also made available, at no cost, Families Talking Together, a family-based program designed to support effective parent-adolescent communication among African-American and Latino families. Families Talking Together can be downloaded at www.nyu.edu/socialwork/clafh.
The poll was released as part of Let’s Talk Month (October, 2011). To interview Guilamo- Ramos, please contact NYU press officer Robert Polner by calling 212.998.2337/ 646.522.3046 – or by email at robert.polner(at)nyu.edu.
About the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH):
CLAFH investigates the role of the Latino family in shaping the development and well-being of Latino adolescents. Strategically based in New York City, CLAFH addresses the needs of New York’s diverse Latino communities in both national and global contexts. The Center serves as a link between the scientific community, Latino health and social service providers, and the broader Latino community. For more information, visit www.nyu.edu/socialwork/clafh.