Kids getting mixed messages about the birds and the bees

A new survey by CouponCodes4U has underlined the general confusion about how young people find out about the birds and the bees. Even though numerous polls have shown that everybody supports sex education – and that includes educators, ie. parents and teachers, medical professionals and young people – there’s not enough of it going around.

Judging from the survey, which included more than 2,300 parents with at least one child over 12 years of age, well over half (68%) of American parents have not had any discussion with their offspring about sexual activity, and the majority of them cited embarrassment as the main reason. Others said they expected the kids to get their information from school classes, or from older (and presumably more experienced) friends or siblings.

About a quarter of those who abstained from discussions about sex said they did so for ‘religious reasons’ and just over a tenth said they didn’t ‘ believe in’ sex education. Another 11% thought kids should learn about it from TV and the Internet.

Another interesting statistic: though 62% of those surveyed said they thought sex education was important, only 18% said their own parents had instigated any discussion or offered useful information when they reached puberty or thereafter. Parents who said sex education should come from teachers in the classroom were the largest single group – just over half of those who chose not to bring up the matter with their teenagers.

Among the parents who did talk about this aspect of growing up with their kids, a small majority said they did so rather than have the young people hear ‘the wrong thing’ from someone else. The next most offered reason was to help establish an honest and trusting relationship between parent and child, and the third most heard was a desire to prepare the child for ‘the outside world’ and its challenges.

Painful experience has proven that “just say no” doesn’t cut it with young people when it comes to sexual experimentation. Kids want and need some guidance; where it comes from is largely up to the parents, since if they can’t or won’t supply it, kids will learn anyway, possibly from not-so-trustworthy sources.