Teens Say Parents Most Influence Their Decisions About Sex

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Teens say that parents (38 percent) most influence their decisions about sex—more than peers (22 percent), the media (9 percent), teachers and educators (4 percent), and others, according to a new survey commissioned by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  Nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) young people surveyed also say that it would be much easier for teens to delay sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents.

Among parents of teens surveyed, nearly eight in 10 (79 percent) say that if their children are having sex, they hope their children will talk to them so they can help ensure that birth control is used.

The telephone survey of 1,002 young people age 12-19 and 1,032 adults age 20 and older was conducted by Social Science Research Solutions, an independent company.  The survey is weighted to provide nationally representative estimates of both groups.  The margin of error for the surveys is +/-3.10 for teens and +/-3.05 for adults.

Other findings from the survey include:

Abstinence and contraception.  93 percent of adults and 87 percent of teens think it is important for teens to be given a strong message about delaying sex.  However, most do not think that should be the only message—74 percent of adults wish young people were getting information about both abstinence and contraception rather than either/or.

Public Policy.  65 percent of adults believe federally funded programs designed to prevent teen pregnancy should provide teens with information about both birth control and postponing sex and 68 percent think their community needs more efforts to prevent teen pregnancy.  

Media.  77 percent of teens who have seen the MTV shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, say the shows help teens better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenting.

Regret.  67 percent of teen girls and 53 percent of teen boys who have had sex wish they had waited longer.

Fatalism.  42 percent of teens say "it doesn't matter whether you use birth control or not, when it is your time to get pregnant it will happen."

Knowledge.  82 percent of teens say they have all the information they need to avoid an unplanned pregnancy yet many admit they know "little or nothing" about condoms (47 percent) and birth control pills (72 percent).

Complete survey results, including the wording of the questions asked, can be found in With One Voice 2012:  America's Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy. 

Teen pregnancy and birth rates in the US have declined by more than 40 percent since the early 1990s.  There have been declines in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups.  Despite this impressive progress, however, nearly three in 10 teen girls in the US get pregnant and the US continues to have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world. 

Visit TheNationalCampaign.org/wov/ for more information on the With One Voice survey.