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Studies show that kids want to talk to their parents

Connie Fields, RN


Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series. Watch for part three in next Wednesday’s Echo Press.

Part 1 of this article (published in the October 2 Echo Press) talked about building a close relationship with your child and teen by making deposits into their “bank account.”

Keeping a positive balance in that account means regular deposits of love and affection, shared times together that make good memories, structure in the home and building good communication skills.

These deposits will help you become an “ask-able parent.”

Children become curious about their bodies when they are toddlers. This is a natural part of their growth and development. It is up to a parent to guide their curiosity into a healthy and respectful understanding of their sexuality while using age-appropriate language and examples.

There are good, basic resources available at your local library as well as online.

Parents need to be prepared to “grow” with their child’s interest in sexuality. Find out factual information. Don’t rely on myths; your child or teen will lose faith in you as a reliable person to talk to and will turn to other less reliable sources for their information.

Here are some facts for you to consider:

• 69 percent of teens would prefer talking to their parents/caregivers about sexual health and say it would be easier to postpone sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations with their parents.

• 50 percent of adults believe that their teen’s peers are the most frequent source of sexual health information.

• Parent-child connectedness can affect a teen’s confidence and strength against engaging in risky behaviors and protects against 33 negative outcomes such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs or poor academic achievement.

• 83 percent of teens worry about their parents’ reactions if they ask about sex.

• 75 percent of teens are too embarrassed to ask questions.

• 64 percent of teens think that their parents won’t understand.

• Scientific evidence suggests that discussing abstinence and contraception at the same time does not hasten the onset of, or increase the frequency of, sexual activity. 70 percent of teens described this type of message as clear and specific.

• Every day in 2011, 13 teens became pregnant and 10 teens gave birth in Minnesota.

• In 2011, 9 percent of high school students were physically hurt by an intimate partner and 12 percent of high school females were forced to have sexual intercourse.

• While the teen pregnancy rate has dropped between 2007 and 2011, the Chlamydia rate has increased by 67 percent in the last 10 years and the gonorrhea rate increased by 34 percent in 2012.

So if kids want to talk, how do parents get started? Check back next week for tips on talking with your child.

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Connie Fields is chair of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Action Council (TePPAC).