At least in Canada, the expectation that teens turn to friends and celebrities as models for sexual behavior has been thwarted by a new survey that finds nearly half of teens look instead to — gasp — their parents.
A new Canadian national online survey suggests 45 percent of teens look to their parents as sexuality role models.
The finding in the national online survey challenges widely held views on teen sexuality: Only 32 percent of teens look to friends for sexual guidance and just 15 percent took inspiration from celebrities.
Researchers also discovered that among the 45 percent of the teenagers who look to their parents, many live in families where sexuality is openly discussed. Moreover, the teenagers in these families have a greater awareness of the risks and consequences of sexually transmitted infections.
“Good communication within families and especially around sexual health issues is associated with more responsible behaviors,” said Jean-Yves Frappier, M.D., a researcher at the University of Montreal.
Unfortunately many parents and their children are not on the same page when it comes to sexual discovery.
For example, researchers discovered 78 percent of the mothers who participated in the survey believed their children copied their friends’ sexual behavior. Further, researchers discovered a lack of involvement by the fathers is especially detrimental toward the development of healthy sexual practices.
“Parents seem to underestimate their role and the impact that they have,” Frappier noted. “Health professionals and the media have an important role to play in empowering parents and enabling them to increase their communications with their children with regards to sexual health issues.”
The survey involved 1,139 mothers of teenagers and 1,171 youths between 14 and 17 years of age. The questionnaire touched on topics such as sources of sexual health information, communication about sexual health, family functioning and sexual activities.
Source: University of Montreal