Talking about Sexuality and Values (2002)

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This worksheet, compiled by Advocates for Youth, allows parents and youths to discuss and explore values around sexuality.  Parents and/or youths can fill out the worksheet.

The accompanying webpage also provides instructions and teaching advice about introducing the topic of values, provides discussion questions and important advice for teachers and parents.

Link to “Talking about Sexuality and Values” Handout

Link to Handout instruction and resources


Raising Sexually Healthy Youth: Parent-Child Communication (2002)

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Transitions, developed by Advocates for Youth, is a newsletter devoted to raising sexually healthy youth with portions for parents and health care providers. This newsletter contains a number of articles addressing  how parents should navigate conversations on topics surrounding sex and sexual health. Topics such as the positive and negative effects of communication about sex and sexual health are discussed, along with how race/ethnicity and gender affect parent-child communication in terms of sex and sexual health. Human development, in terms of physical, emotional, cognitive and sexual development is also discussed in Transitions.

Some interesting facts from this article include:

  • “A major study showed that adolescents who reported feeling connected to parents and family were more likely than other teens to delay initiating sexual intercourse. Teens who said their families were warm and caring also reported less marijuana use and less emotional distress than their peers.” (Lagina, 2002, p. 3)
  • “In one study, just over 54 percent of students reported discussing HIV with their parents. Percentages varied little by race/ethnicity (white, 54.1; African American, 55.7; Latino, 54.5; other, 55.5 percent) but varied significantly by gender (females, 59.7; males 49.2 percent).” (Lagina, 2002, p. 3)
  • “Many parents do not provide all the information about sex that young people need. In one survey, only 38 percent of young women and 25 percent of young men said they had ever gotten a good idea from their parents that helped them talk about sexual issues with their girlfriend/boyfriend.” (Lagina, 2002, p. 4)

The article contains the following sections:

  • Introduction on Rights, Respect and Responsibility
  • Parent-Child Communication: Promoting Sexually Healthy Youth- The Facts
  • Parenting is a Five-Piece Suit
  • Sex and Sensibility: A Parent’s Take on Advice from an Expert
  • Growth and Development Ages 9-12–What Parents Need to Know
  • Selected Resources for Families
  • Growth and Development Ages 13-17–What Parents Need to Know
  • Tips for Talking with Sexually Active Teens about Contraception
  • Tips for Health Care Providers: Helping Teens and Parents with Sexual Health Needs
  • Are Parents and Teens Talking about Sex?
  • Askable Parents Raise Sexually Responsible Children

Citation: Huberman, B., Lagina, N., Moss, T., Roffman, D.M., Alford, S., Gordon, S. (2002). Raising Sexually Healthy Youth. Transitions. Vol. 15., No. 1., 1-20

Link to “Raising Sexually Healthy Youth: Parent-Child Communication.”

Parents Matter: The Role of Parents in Teens’ Decisions About Sex (2009)

 photo child-trends_zps262cb9b8.jpgThis research brief published by Child Trends examines whether parental involvement during adolescence reduces the chances of teens being sexually active at a young age.  The study found that multiple measures of parental involvement and engagement are associated with delayed sex among teens. These measures include positive parent-adolescent relationship quality, high parental awareness and monitoring, and family dinner routines.

Some interesting facts include:

  • “Positive relationships with both parents in adolescence are associated with lower levels of early sexual activity among teen girls.” (Ikramullah et al., 2009, p. 3)
  • “Higher levels of parent-adolescent relationship quality are associated with reduced risk of early sexual experience among teen girls, even after taking account of other background factors.” (Ikramullah et al., 2009, p. 3)
  • “Adolescent girls report higher levels of parental awareness and monitoring than do adolescent boys.” (Ikramullah et al., 2009, p. 3)
  • “Adolescents whose parents are more aware of whom they are with when not at home are less likely to have sex by age 16.” (Ikramullah et al., 2009, p. 5)
  • “Programs designed to delay teen sexual activity and to deter other risky behaviors may benefit from including or enhancing parental involvement in their offerings.” (Ikramullah et al., 2009, p. 6)

Citation: Ikramullah, E., Manlove, J., Cui, C., Moore, K.A. (2009). Parents matter: The role of parents in teens’ decisions about sex. Child Trends Research Brief. Washington, D.C.: Child Trends., 1-7

Link to “Parents Matter: The Role of Parents in Teens’ Decisions About Sex”

Parent–Adolescent Sexual Communication: Associations of Condom Use with Condom Discussions (2009)

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This study, published in the journal AIDS and Behavior, examines the relationship between teen-parent sexual communication, discussion about condoms, and condom use among teens in mental health treatment.  Adolescents between the ages 13-17 years old and who have undergone mental health treatment within the past year were eligible.  Both eligible adolescents and their parents were interviewed for data collection.

Several interesting results were found:

  • “Adolescents reported discussing sexual topics more frequently than anticipated […] nearly 80% of adolescents reported discussions about condoms with parents” (Hadley et al. Pg. 1002)
  • “[…] among this sample of adolescents with high rates of psychiatric disorders and family turmoil, discussion about sex occurred at relatively high rates” (Hadley et al. Pg. 1002).
  • “[…] adolescents who report discussing condoms with their parents were significantly more likely to use condoms with their parents were significantly more likely to use condoms consistently” (Hadley et al. Pg. 1003).


Hadley, W., Brown, L.K., Lescano, C.M., Kell, H., Spalding, K., DiClemente, R., Donenberg, G. and Project STYLE Study Group. Parent–Adolescent Sexual Communication: Associations of Condom Use with Condom Discussions. 2009. AIDS Behav. 13:997-1004.

Link to “Parent–Adolescent Sexual Communication: Associations of Condom Use with Condom Discussions” (Subscription Only)

Parent-Adolescent Communication about Sex in Latino Families: A Guide for Practitioners

This publication published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy assesses available information on parent-teen communication in Latino families, and also pinpoints the research findings that are most useful to practitioners.  It is mainly a resource for practitioners and illustrates specific characteristics that define Latino families in regards to acculturation, education, family structure, and religiosity and how each of these characteristic can affect adolescent-parent communication, especially about sexual health.

In addition, the publication gives communication tips for Latino parents on stressing cultural importance of morals, the importance of talking to both daughters and sons about sex and contraception, and knowing when the time is right to talk about these topics. Communication tips are available in both English and Spanish.

Interesting facts include:

  •  “A study conducted by Latina magazine and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that while 47% of Latino teens said they were sexually experienced, only 30% of Latino parents thought their teen had had sex.” (Ramos-Guilamo & Bouris, 2008, p. 11)
  • “Although parents from all ethnic and racial groups find it difficult to talk to their child about sex, a number of studies have suggested that Latino parents do not talk as often about sex as do other parents.”  (Ramos-Guilamo & Bouris, 2008, p. 13)

Citation: Ramos-Guilamo, V. & Bouris, A. (2008). Parent-adolescent communication about sex in latino families: A guide to practicioners. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy. p. 1-22

Link to “Parent-Adolescent Communication about Sex in Latino Families: A Guide for Practitioners “

Adolescents’ Reports of Communication With Their Parents About STDs and Birth Control: 1988, 1995, and 2002

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This article, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, reports the trends found in adolescents’ reports of discussion with parents about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and birth control methods from 1988 to 2002.

The data analyzed were from the National Survey of Adolescent Males and the National Survey of Family Growth.  The sample population consisted of adolescents 15-17 years old.

In 2002, fewer female adolescents reported discussion with a parent about STD or birth control methods than in 1995. The share of female adolescents in 2002 reporting no discussion of either topic with their parents increased by almost half compared to 1995. Patterns across time in male adolescents’ discussions of birth control methods with their parents appear stable.

The recent decline in female adolescent reports of parent-communication about birth control and STDs, and the increase in female adolescent reports of no discussion of either topic suggest that public health officials, educators, and clinicians should invigorate their efforts to encourage parents to talk with their children about STDs and birth control.



Robert, A. and Sonenstein, F. Adolescents’ Reports of Communication With Their Parents About STDs and Birth Control: 1988, 1995, and 2002. 2010. Journal of Adolescent Health. 46:6. 532-7.

Link to “Adolescents’ Reports of Communication With Their Parents About STDs and Birth Control: 1988, 1995, and 2002” (Subscription Only)

Using Sibling Differences to Estimate Effects of Parenting on Adolescent Sexual Risk Behaviors (2008)

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This research study looked at whether parenting during mid-adolescence affects sexual risk behaviors (frequency of intercourse, unprotected intercourse, and number of sexual partners) during late adolescence.

The researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), an annual survey study of youth in America born between 1980 and 1984. The original sample consisted of a nationally representative group of 8984 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 years.  The researchers performed follow-up phone calls for the following six years.

Results from this study showed that “more negative and psychologically controlling parenting during mid-adolescence predicted higher levels of sexual risk behaviors (such as multiple partners, more frequent intercourse, and lack of effective birth control) during late adolescence. Negative and psychologically controlling parenting behaviors may inhibit adolescents’ development of self-efficacy and identity, interfere with mature and responsible decision-making skills, and affect the development of healthy relationships, in turn leading to an elevated likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors”

The researchers were also interested in whether adolescents’ engagement in regular activities with their families was protective and their results showed that “even within families, differences in adolescents’ participation in family activities were prospectively linked to differences in risky sexual behaviors.”

The results from this study suggest that parenting and family processes may influence adolescent risky sexual behaviors. Regular family activities may buffer adolescents, while negative parenting behaviors may increase adolescents’ engagement in sexual risk behaviors.


Coley, R. L., Mendeiros, B. L. and  Schindler, H.S. Using Sibling Differences to Estimate Effects of Parenting on Adolescent Sexual Risk Behaviors. 2008. Journal of Adolescent Health. 43:2. 133-140.

Link to “Using Sibling Differences to Estimate Effects of Parenting on Adolescent Sexual Risk Behaviors”

Predictors of Adolescent Participation in STI Research (2008)

The researchers of this study wanted to investigate whether a requirement for parental consent for a STI study had any effect on adolescent enrollment rates for the study.  This is important as institutional requirement of parental consent may bias the sample of adolescents who agree to participate in clinical STI research studies.

Study participants were sexually active females ranging from the ages 14-21 years old who needed a pelvic exam with STI symptoms or risk factors.  Enrolled participants completed a confidential interview and STI testing.  During the interview, each participant was asked whether her parent/guardian was aware of her sexual activity, her STI testing today, and her participation in the research study. During the first 3 months of the study, consent was obtained from the adolescent and parental consent was obtained for those who were under 18 years of age. After the first 3 months the IRB granted a waiver of the requirement for parental consent, allowing subsequent consent from all adolescents aged 14 –21 years.

Previous research studies have shown that parental barriers accounted for a large number of adolescents refusing enrollment in research studies and results from this study supported these previous findings.

The results showed that:

  • Removing the parental consent requirement increases enrollment rates in this population
  • Even when adolescents report parental awareness of sexual behavior, requiring parental consent appears to decrease participation in STI research
  • Regardless of parental consent, 100% of enrollees requested that STI test results be handled confidentially, confirming that privacy and autonomy are important to adolescent women


Reed, J.L. and J. S. Huppert. Predictors of Adolescent Participation in Sexually Transmitted Infection Research: Brief Report. 2008. Journal of Adolescent Health. 43:2. 195-197.


Link to “Predictors of Adolescent Participation in Sexually Transmitted Infection Research: Brief Report.”