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Prevention/Epidemiology

49 Percent of 12th-Grade Students Reported Being Sexually Active: Time to Have "The Talk?"

June 16, 2011

Parents should begin talking about sexual health matters with their children from an early age, especially when they ask questions, experts say.

About 49 percent of 12th-graders are sexually active, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCPTUP), citing the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. However, the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth found 33 percent of female teens received no instruction about contraception before they first had sex.

"Parents should disabuse themselves of this notion that it is a one-time talk," said Bill Albert, chief program officer for NCPTUP. "It is and should be an 18-year conversation."

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Kelley (Dallas, TX) Tue., Jun. 28, 2011 at 11:36 am EDT
I am a Mom and I will definitely have a talk with my little boy about sex at a very early age. Speaker and Author, Mary Flo Ridley says that planning conversations with your kids about sex might seem stressful, but itís easier than trying to answer their questions when youíre not prepared. Take in and personalize this information for your family and you will find that these conversations serve as tremendous opportunities for strengthening your relationship with your children. I can't wait to start utilizing her methods with my kiddos!
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Comment by: Evelyn V S (Auburn Hills, MI) Wed., Jun. 22, 2011 at 8:10 am EDT
I agree with Dr. Blythe that sex is a part of our lives and should be a healthy part. Because it's not treated that way in society (as something to be shared in a monogomous relationship) it has become a high risk behavior. The more partners one has the more risk there is for STIs and our statistics show this clearly. Healthy sex is within the bounds of a faithful, monogomous and committed relationship like marriage.
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Comment by: Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall (New Plymouth, New Zealand) Sat., Jun. 18, 2011 at 1:23 am EDT
As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I heartily second this advice, especially as the US enjoys the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized work.

I have done my own small part to increase adolescent awareness about pregnancy and contraception with a new young adult novel THE BATTLE FOR TOMORROW: A FABLE (www.thebattlefortomorrow.com). A book about youth activism, it also frankly addresses teen sexuality contraception and abortion.
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