Many U.S. Parents Unaware of Teen Sex, Study Finds
Thu Aug 12, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Many parents seem to be in the dark about the sex lives of their adolescents, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.
They found that 84 percent of parents they surveyed did not think their teenager was sexually active -- despite a recent government study showing that nearly half of ninth through 12th graders aged 14 to 18 have had sex.

But 90 percent of the 1,600 mothers and fathers surveyed said they had started talking to their children about sex, most by the time they were 12 years old.

"While children are young, parents feel confident that they have control over their health and well-being. As the child enters his or her teen years, parents may feel less connected and unaware of all he or she is doing," said Vaughn Rickert of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, which commissioned the survey.

"As such, it is important for parents to have a dialogue with their adolescent regularly to ensure their teen remains healthy and happy through the high school years."

The national survey of parents of teenagers aged 14 to 18 found that 75 percent had discussed sexually transmitted infections with their children, and 88 percent said they had talked about the AIDS virus.