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Study Finds Parents Wait Too Long to Have 'The Talk' With Children

December 31, 2009

NAXHVILLE, Tenn. - The results of a study published in the January issue of Pediatrics finds parents are too-often late in telling their children about the birds and the bees. Children are beginning sexual experimentation younger than many parents want to believe, and may put themselves at risk because they don't have information needed to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy, according to the study.

Mark Huffman, vice-president of education and training for Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, says being sexually responsible should involve a long-term conversation with children.

"The earlier you start and the more you practice, then when the conversations get really nervous for parents - that is, when they become explicitly about birth control - then those conversation will be a little bit easier."

The study disproves the fears many parents have that giving children sex education too early could make them curious about experimenting, adds Huffman.

"If they do give a lot of information, it's not going to increase the chances that kids will start sexual experiences earlier."

Researchers interviewed 141 middle-class and upper middle-class parents and their children, ages 13 to 17, finding 40 percent were sexually active before their parents told them about the hazards of sex.

More information is online at www.plannedparenthood.org/mid-east-tennesee.

Randy O'Brien, Public News Service - TN