Teens and Sex: Can We Talk?

Some advice from the pros on having these critical conversations.

Niesha Lofing

McClatchy Tribune Newspapers

November 8, 2009


Do you think your teen is having sex? Many parents would say no.

The harsh reality is that only about half of them would be right.

Children are engaging in sex at younger ages than in the past, experts say. Combine that with a steady increase in sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers and a rising teen birth rate, and you have a growing need for parents to educate their children.

"Comprehensive sex education really makes a difference," said Dr. Glennah Trochet, public health officer of Sacramento County, Calif. "People always think teens aren't influenced by their parents, but studies show that what their parents tell them, especially if they are very clear, really does influence young people."

So, parents: Start talking.

Even if children are not sexually active, "they probably are exposed to peer groups who are sexually active," said Dr. Angela Rosas, a pediatric gynecologist with Children's Specialists Medical Group of Sacramento, Calif. "Questions will come up."

Some advice from the pros on having these critical conversations.

Online Advice

Three sites with helpful information: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry; TalkingWithKids.org and Parenting.com