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Sexuality Expert in Minneapolis: Parents Need to Be a Vocal Moral Guide for Their Teens

October 24, 2002

The child's needs, not the parents', should be the guiding principles in teaching young people about sex, according to sexuality educator Deborah Roffman.

Roffman, author of "Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense about Sex," was the keynote speaker at a seminar this week sponsored by the Minnesota AIDS Project and the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting. The seminar marks the end of "Let's Talk Month" in October, a national campaign to encourage parents to take a key role in their children's sexuality education.

Roffman advocates basing teaching on what kids want and need to know at each stage, starting early. Schools and families both have a role, but they are different, she said. Schools can teach about the physiology of sex, as well as impart community values. "Schools can help kids understand the conflicting messages in culture about sex and think about them critically, but only a parent can share his or her own personal values with a child. Kids need that. They need both."

Several local and national studies, including one published last month by the University of Minnesota's Center for Adolescent Health and Development, have shown that children who grow up in homes where sex is discussed openly, and where families' values about sex are clear, postpone having sex. And when they do, they tend to have fewer partners and are more likely than their peers to use protection from disease or pregnancy.

Both the MOAPPP and the MAP have lobbied for comprehensive sexuality education in Minnesota, one of many states that have policies endorsing abstinence-based sex education. In 2000, the Minnesota Sexuality Education Survey found that seven out of 10 Minnesotans support comprehensive sexuality education, and more than eight of 10 believe that such teaching does not encourage kids to have sex.

Back to other CDC news for October 24, 2002

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
10.19.02; Maria Elena Baca

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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