Parents should talk to teens about sex more
You may not like the idea of talking to your kids about the birds and the bees, but research has suggested that telling your teen about sex can help influence their behaviour for the better.
Discussing sex with a parent - especially a mum - can help influence teens' sexual behaviour, including their use of condoms, which can help promote safe sex. This is according to a review led by Laura Widman from North Carolina State University, US.
Researchers looked at 52 studies involving over 25,000 teens. Each of the studies analysed communication between teens with one or both of their parents and what safe sex measures the teens took.
While talking to your teen about sex may help them to make the right decision about sex and the issues that impact it, it isn't the only factor in their decisions. According to Ms Widman, the link between sexual behaviour and parental communication was quite small; however, it can still inform them of what they need to know to choose the right contraception.
While being a small link, the review found that when parents spoke to their teens about contraception and sex, as well as things that could impact sexual behaviour - such as communication with a partner, drug use and peer pressure - the youths tended to participate in safer sexual behaviour.
It was found that these conversations increased the chances of them using contraception, including condoms. According to the review, this result was strongest for girls who had spoken to their mothers.
According to Ms Widman, because boys were the least receptive to these discussions, parents could benefit from having more conversations about sex with their sons. They could also benefit from changing how they have the discussion, the topics they cover and the overall way they address the basic message of safe sex.
Parents can help to reinforce the lessons taught at school about being safe to avoid STIs and pregnancy among teens, and so should make efforts to ensure those lines of communication are open.