Jay's World of Abstracts 00002
Healthy Teen Development Teleconference II
A presentation by Robert Wm. Blum, MD, MPH, PhD.
[Standard disclaimer: The nature of abstracts are
that they are pieces of something larger. Not everyone is going to be
happy with my choice of abstracts
from any larger work, so if you are dissatisfied, I would refer you to
document, which should be able to be found on the Internet. I encourage
make their own abstracts to satisfy their needs.
Several people attended a two-day teleconference that
focused on current research regarding healthy teen development.
The following abstract was drawn from a presentation by Robert Wm.
Blum, MD, MPH, PhD.
While teen pregnancy in the US has declined every
1991, it continues to be the highest in the industrialized world,
costing us $6.9 billion a year.
What has been learned about adolescent pregnancy
- Sex education increases short-term knowledge but
has minimal effect on whether adolescents initiate
sex or use contraception.
- Sexual education does not increase the
likelihood of initiating sexual activity.
- With very few exceptions, programs focused on sex education
or the provision of contraceptives alone have little or no
- Family planning services reduce unwanted adolescent births
through contraception and abortion.
- School-based clinics have not been
shown consistently to reduce sexual activity or pregnancy.
- Abstinence-only prevention programs have not
been shown to reduce sexual activity.
- Most interventions are not based on
theory; when they are, they appear to have more impact.
- Most interventions have not been
informed by research and most do not evaluate what they do.
What do we know about the influence of parent-teen
- Parent/child connectedness (support, closeness,
warmth) is associated with an older age of first intercourse and a
lower frequency of sex during adolescence.
- Parent attitudes and values disapproving of adolescent
sexual intercourse (or unprotected intercourse) is associated with
later age of sexual initiation.
- The research is less clear as to the role of parental
supervision/regulation. Some studies suggest it is associated with a
delay in the onset of intercourse while other studies show that strict
parenting is associated with a higher risk of early sexual initiation.
It is uncertain to what extent and how parent/teen
communication about sex and contraception affects adolescent
Recent research from
the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health)
What questions does the present research address?
- Are teens aware of their mother's disapproval of
their having sex? Of the mothers who strongly disapprove of
their teens having sex, 70% of their daughters and 54% of their sons
were aware of it. 56% of daughters and 71% of sons were aware if their
mother's disapproval was LESS strong.
- Do mother's know if their teens have had sex? If
their teens had NOT had sex, 97% of mothers were correct in saying they
had not. If the teens had sex, only 49% of mothers were correct in
saying their teens had sex.
- Do mothers talk to their teens about sex and birth control?
The more strongly they disapproved of teens having sex,
the more likely they were to talk to their teens about it. Mothers are
more likely to talk a "great deal" about sex and birth control with
their daughters than with their sons. Interestingly, mothers are also
more uncomfortable about talking about sex and birth control with their
daughters than with their sons.
Things that were learned from the study:
- It is what teens believe their parents
believe about sex and birth control that makes the
- Teen perceptions are influenced by what parents say, but so
many more things influence their perceptions.
- Younger teens and older boys who feel connected to their
mothers are less likely to have early sex.
- When it comes to delaying the initiation of sexual
intercourse, caring and connectedness are important -- especially for
- Simply saying that parents disapprove of teen sex is not
enough. Clearly, some teens do not get the message.
When they do get the message, teens are more likely to delay sexual
- While so much is made these days over what we should say to
our kids about sex, other aspects of parenting may have a greater
- About 50% of parents seem to be unaware that their teens
have started to have sex.
- Mothers may be more oriented toward influencing their
daughter's sexual behavior and more oriented to influencing their son's
risk of infection and early parenting.
- There are no simple answers for parents when it comes to
talking to kids about birth control.
- To the extent that our messages, values, and behaviors as
parents are more consistent, teens may be able to comprehend what we
believe and what we say.