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Survey Research with Parents: Talking with Children at Home Remains a Challenge


October, 2011 national poll: “Let’s Talk: Are Parents Tackling Crucial Conversations about Sex?”
New York University’s Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health partnered with Planned Parenthood Federation of America to conduct a survey of parents regarding how they communicate about sexuality with their children. The poll, conducted by the research firm Knowledge Networks, reached 1,111 parents of 10-18 year olds to obtain a nationally-representative sample with equal numbers of mothers and fathers. Professor Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, co-director of the Center at NYU, provided the data analysis.1 Results were released in October, 2011.
Key Findings:
  • Over 8 in 10 parents (82%) polled said they had talked to their children about topics related to sex and sexuality.
  • An overwhelming majority of parents polled support comprehensive sexuality education in middle and high school that includes both abstinence and birth control methods.
  • Only 43% of parents say they feel “very comfortable” talking with their children about sexuality and sexual health; 56% reported feeling only “somewhat comfortable” or “uncomfortable” talking to their children about these topics.
Parents and caregivers are – and ought to be – their children’s primary sexuality educators.  SIECUS recognizes that a number of factors, including lack of knowledge, skills, or comfort, may impede a parent’s or caregiver’s successful fulfillment of that role. As the latest nationally-representative survey shows, although a majority of parents say they have talked with their children about sexuality issues, fewer than half feel “very comfortable” doing so. SIECUS believes that communities, schools, faith-based institutions, the media, and professional sexuality educators should help parents by providing training, resources, understanding, and encouragement.
1 Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health, New York University (2011). “Poll: Let’s Talk: Are Parents Tackling Crucial Conversations about Sex?,”accessed 31 October 2011. <>