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That 'Sex Talk' With Your Kids Should Be Ongoing
Date:3/3/2008

Continuing dialogue can head off risky behaviors, study suggests

MONDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- Parents may not want to hear this, but new research suggests it's not a good idea to just have that one big "sex talk" with your kids.

Instead, the study recommends that you encourage an ongoing dialogue about sex with your children -- even if it makes you uncomfortable -- so your kids are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors.

"It's important that parents set a foundation early on in talking with their kids about sex so that it becomes part of the norm in their household," said study lead author Steven Martino, a behavioral scientist at RAND in Pittsburgh. "As children grow and have experiences, you want them to feel it's natural to talk to their parents. When asked where they'd like to get their information, kids say from their parents more than anyone else."

Martino said he realizes that some parents feel uncomfortable talking about sex with their children. And, he said, it's OK to let your children know that you're uncomfortable, but explain that it's such an important topic that you need to talk about sex anyway.

Martino's study included 312 teens and their parents. Both parents and adolescents completed baseline questionnaires, and the researchers had the teens complete their surveys in private rooms and assured them that their parents would not be given any of the information they provided.

The parents were then randomly divided into two groups, with half attending an eight-week worksite-based parenting intervention class called "Talking Parents, Healthy Teens," designed to improve communication with their teens. The other parents just completed the survey and received no intervention.

Follow-up surveys were completed at one week, three months and nine months after the intervention began. The surveys were designed to assess 22 sex-related topics, such as the con
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