A new research revealed that sex talk between parents and children can help lead to less risky behaviors among teens. The researchers analyzed 52 individual studies covering over 25,000 teenagers, all of whom reported talks with one or both parents about safe sex behavior.
The team found that teenagers who had 'the talk' exhibited safer behavior towards sex, which includes higher changes of using contraception, including condoms. The effect of the safe sex talks were more evident with teenage girls who spoke specifically with their mothers.
"Talking with your kids about sex and protection matters. Starting this conversation, no matter how awkward and uncomfortable and embarrassing it might be - your kid will listen," said North Carolina State University's Laura Widman, the psychologist who led the research.
Widman noted that topics discussed between parents and teens have no significant differences across studies analyzed. However, the team noted that parents were more likely to connect with teenage girls than boys. Moreover, parents tend to stress the 'negative' consequences of sexual behavior when talking to daughters and these consequences most likely include teenage pregnancy.
Widman's research did not touch on research that involved abstinence conversations and instead focused on talks that involved safe sex behavior, birth control and sexually transmitted diseases. Widman believed that any talk impacts outcome. The studies Widman's team analyzed found that mothers had greater effect than fathers when it comes to talking about sex with their children. Also, teenage girls have higher chances of responding to 'the talk' compared to teenage boys.
According to the latest survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 47 percent of American teenagers have had sex and 34 percent are sexually active. Just over half, 59 percent of the teenagers involved in the survey said they used a condom during their most recent sexual activity. Almost 13.7 percent of the sexually active teenagers admitted to doing nothing to prevent teenage pregnancy during their most recent sexual intercourse.
Widman stressed that the findings weren't overwhelming and that 'the talk' isn't the 'magic pill' that could alter adolescent behavior but the effect of 'the talk' was measurable and transparent. Anything that can help improve teenage behavior towards sex can only be good.
The researchers published their findings in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on Nov. 2, 2015.