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Study: Closeness to mother can delay first instance of sexual intercourse among younger teens

WASHINGTON, D.C., and MINNEAPOLIS--Teenagers are less likely to start having sex when their mothers are involved in their lives, have a close relationship with them, and stress the importance of education, according to new findings from the largest survey ever conducted with adolescents in the United States. The results were most consistent among younger teens in the eighth and ninth grades. But simply warning teenagers about the dangers of early sex or telling them that they shouldn't have sex does not stop them from becoming sexually active, the study researchers found.

The latest results from the National Longitudinal Survey on Adolescent Health (Add Health) draw from interviews with more than 3,000 pairs of mothers and their teens. The findings were reported today in a monograph by University of Minnesota researchers and in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

When teens perceive that their mothers oppose their having sex, they are less likely to do so, according to the Add Health results. But while most mothers say that they do not want their sons or daughters to be sexually active, their kids don't always get the message. Even when mothers strongly disapprove of their kids having sex, 30 percent of girls and nearly 45 percent of boys do not believe that they do.

"Parents say that they talk until they're blue in the face and their kids still don't listen," said study author Robert Blum, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Adolescent Health and Development Program. "Kids will pay attention to their parents' values and beliefs on sex. But talk alone does not get the message through."

In addition to talking to their children, parents can do many things that make a difference in whether teens start having sex, Blum said. Parents need to know their teens' friends and speak with their friends' parents. Most importantly, teens, and especially younger teens, who feel close to their mothers are less l
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Contact: Deane Morrison
morri029@umn.edu
612-624-2346
University of Minnesota
4-Sep-2002


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