Parents, children need to discuss sexual matters sooner, researchers say
MONDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to talking about sex, parents are a few paces behind their kids.
Too often, the birds-and-the-bees conversation occurs after, and not before, kids start experimenting sexually, possibly in risky ways, reports a study in the January issue of Pediatrics.
This revelation comes despite American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that health-care providers and parents talk to their kids about sex and sexuality early in life.
"Parents are a little behind the 8 ball. They underestimate their children's sexual knowledge and interest and behaviors," said Dr. Lawrence Friedman, director of adolescent medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"It's a hard subject for many parents to broach, but the level of sexual activity in many kids has moved up in terms of initiation. It's younger," added Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. "Talking about it is very helpful in terms of disease prevention, unwanted pregnancy and even issues around relationships."
Although there were suspicions that parents lagged behind their kids, previous studies had asked adults to remember when they first had sex and when their parents talked to them, said study author Megan Beckett, a social scientist with the Rand Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif.
For this study, Beckett and her colleagues surveyed 141 middle-class and upper middle-class parents and their children, aged 13 to 17, in more of a real-time scenario. "We went back about four times over a year's period," Beckett said.
Starting with questions about girls bodies and menstruation, the research team asked parents and children about kissing and handholding, birth control, refusing sex, oral sex and intercourse, all related to different developmental stages of th
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