MONDAY, Jan. 10, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- American parents say they should be the ones to teach their children about sex but many believe that role is being filled by kids' friends and the media, a new study finds.
Researchers interviewed 1,605 parents of school-aged children in Minnesota and found that 98 percent said they should be responsible for their children's sex education, but only 24 percent believed they were the main source of that knowledge.
Instead, many parents thought the majority of youngsters learn about sex from friends (78 percent) or the media (60 percent).
"Based on previous research, however, youth indicate that parents are a primary source of sex information for them and that parents most influence their decisions about sex," study co-author Debra Bernat, of Florida State University, said in a Center for Advancing Health news release.
The study appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The findings raise "the question of why youth cannot get the information that they seek -- and prefer -- from their own parents," Nancy Irwin, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist and cognitive behavioral specialist who focuses on childhood and adolescent sexuality, said in the news release.
"This should be a wake-up call to parents: you and your kids want the exact same thing. What's missing are the proper tools," Irwin added.
The Nemours Foundation outlines how parents can talk to their children about sex.