Teens Say Parents Most Influence Their Decisions about Sex

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Teens say parents most influence their decisions about sex and 87 percent say it would be much easier for them to postpone sex and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents, according to a new survey from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Other results from the telephone survey of 1,002 young people age 12-19 and 1,032 adults age 20 and older include:

  • Fully 42 percent of young people age 12-19 agree with the statement: "It doesn't matter whether you use birth control or not, when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen."
  • Even though most teens age 12-19 (86 percent) say they have all the information they need to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, 66 percent say they know "little or nothing" about male condoms and how to use them (including 36 percent of those age 15-19).
  • 55 percent of sexually experienced young people age 15-19 (including 67 percent of teen girls 15-19) say they wish they had waited longer before having sex.
  • 77 percent of teens age 12-19 who have seen MTV's popular 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom programs say the shows "help teens better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenting."
  • 74 percent of adults wish teens were getting more information about both abstinence and contraception rather than either/or.
  • Similarly, 65 percent of adults think federally funded programs designed to prevent teen pregnancy should emphasize messages encouraging teens to postpone sex and providing them with information about contraception.

Results from the new survey are being released in conjunction with the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. On the National Day, May 2, and throughout the month of May, hundreds of thousands of teens nationwide are expected to participate in the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The purpose of the National Day is to focus the attention of teens on the importance of avoiding too-early pregnancy and parenthood through an interactive online quiz and game.

On the National Day, teens nationwide are encouraged to visit StayTeen.org to participate in several online activities—including the popular National Day Quiz—that challenge them to think carefully about what they might do "in the moment."

"Teen pregnancy and birth rates are at record lows, but now is not the time to let up on the gas," cautions Sarah Brown, Chief Executive Officer of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, organizer of the National Day. "It is still the case that nearly three in 10 teen girls in this country become pregnant before age 20 and that the US still has the highest teen pregnancy rate among comparable countries. We hope that—in some modest way—the National Day will help teens think carefully about sex, relationships, contraception, the possibility of pregnancy, and the lifelong challenges of being a parent."

Visit TheNationalCampaign.org for more information about the surveyincluding methodology.