Survey Shows That Most Teenagers Turn to Parents, Not Peers, For Sexual Advice

While the common belief is that teenagers tend to mimic their peers and the media when it comes to sexuality, results from a new survey indicate that nearly half of teenagers actually consider their parents to be their sexuality role models.Researchers administered online surveys to 1139 mothers of teenagers and 1171 youths between the ages of 14 and 17.  Survey topics included sexual health information, communication about sexual health, family functioning and sexual activities.

The findings showed that 45 percent of teenagers use their parents as guides in sexual behavior.  In comparison, only 32 percent looked to their friends and 15 percent used celebrities.

The results also suggested that the majority of the teenagers who see their parents as role models live in families where sexuality is openly discussed and that 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 Dr. Jean-Yves Frappier, a researcher at the University of Montreal’s affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, in a press release.

Interestingly, the mothers seemed to believe that their impact on their children was much less – 78 percent of the mothers surveyed believed their children modeled their sexual behavior after their peers.

“Parents seem to underestimate their role and the impact that they have,” Frappier said. “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.”