A new study says teens have much more cautious attitudes and values regarding sex than perhaps is generally believed, and parents have more influence than they think.
A research study released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (teenpregnancy.org) reveals that most teenagers and parents overestimate how many teens are having sex. And an expert on teen pregnancy prevention says that misinformation can have an impact on the sexual decisions that young people make for themselves.
Campaign spokesman Bill Albert says teens who believe that their friends are sexually active are much more likely to begin having sex at an early age than those who do not. For that reason, adults need to know the truth and communicate it to teens.
Albert says the fact that so many teenagers overestimate the percentage of their friends who are sexually active is very important. He advises parents to "let the young people in their lives know that not everybody is sexually active at a young age, that in fact most aren't and many are delaying -- increasingly so."
The survey also found that two-thirds of teens who have had sex wish they had waited longer. And another interesting finding is that, according to the study, nearly 50 percent of adults think it is embarrassing for teenagers to admit being virgins. However, only 25 percent of teens believe the same.
The study makes it apparent that adults have many misconceptions about teenagers' attitudes about sex. And Albert says parents, in particular, need to pay attention to this study. He notes that researchers have found that parents continue to underestimate the influence they have on their children's decisions about sex.
"Most parents, when it comes to the very delicate issues relationships, they fear that their influence has been lost to popular culture and to peers," Albert says, "and I think that is where their crisis of confidence comes from."
But the Campaign's communications director says his group is hearing exactly the opposite from young people. According to him, teenagers really do want advice from their parents on these issues.
National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
© 2003 Agape Press.