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Children's Sexual Debut Often Precedes Parental Discussion

Many children engage in sexual behavior before parents address topics such as birth control

MONDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Parents do discuss sexual matters with their children, but topics such as birth control and partner condom refusal are often brought up after the child's sexual debut, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in Pediatrics.

Megan K. Beckett, Ph.D., of Rand in Santa Monica, Calif., and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study of 141 parents and their 13- to 17-year-old children who completed surveys at baseline and again after three, six and 12 months on their discussions of 24 sexual and pre-sexual topics from hand-holding to sexual intercourse.

Parents and children discuss topics such as menstruation and girls' bodies when the children are at the pre-sexual stage, while birth control and refusing sex are typically discussed when children have had some pre-coital sexual experience, but by the time discussions about birth control, partner condom refusal and sexually transmitted diseases occur, over 40 percent of children have already had sexual intercourse, the researchers found.

"Our results reinforce the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that pediatricians and other clinicians encourage parents to educate their adolescents about sexuality beginning early in life," the authors write. "Our results provide pediatricians and other clinicians with details about the types of resources to which they may want to direct parents so that parents have more timely communication about important sex-related topics with their children."

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