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'Parents Speak Up' National Campaign Encourages Parent-Child Communication About Sex

WASHINGTON, June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Advertising can be an effective way to encourage parents to talk with their children about sex, according to a new study by researchers at The George Washington University and RTI International.

The study, published in the June issue of Journal of Adolescent Health, found that the "Parents Speak Up National Campaign," successfully encouraged parents to initiate conversations about sex with their children.

"The study adds a new dimension to the larger debate on abstinence education and intervention programs," said Doug Evans, Ph.D., director of public health communication and marketing at The George Washington University and the study's lead author. "We found that abstinence messaging delivered to parents through mass media is efficacious in promoting parenting-child communication about sex and thus may be an effective public health strategy."

The results showed that four weeks after exposure to the ad campaign, fathers initiated more conversations with their children than they had previously. And after six months, both fathers and mothers who were exposed to the campaign were more likely to specifically recommend to their children to wait to become sexually active.

"The pattern of initiation of conversations about sex at four weeks post-baseline and then recommendations to their child to wait at six months post-baseline among fathers" is significant, said Kevin Davis, M.A., a senior researcher at RTI and the study's co-author. "This suggests the campaign succeeded in communicating its 'call to action,' particularly among fathers."

The campaign, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, launched in June 2007 and uses primarily public service announcements as well as paid television, radio, print and outdoor announcements.

The study included nearly 1,500 parents of children 10 to 14 years old, selected from the Knowledge Networks, an online panel based on a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. Participants were randomly assigned to experiment conditions, receiving exposure or no exposure to campaign ads and materials. All participants completed a baseline survey prior to exposure and then two follow-up surveys four weeks and six months later.

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SOURCE George Washington University
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