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Does Your Mother Know?

The home environment is the most significant influence determining whether or not young teenagers are sexually active. Married couple families where the parents have good relationships with their-children and communicate effectively with them are the least likely to have teenagers involved in underage sex.

When parents show practical concern for the welfare of their young teenagers, monitor their activities and set behavioural guidelines, they create a family environment in which teenage sexual activity is dramatically reduced. Wherever such a caring and protective family environment is lacking teenage sexual activity is much more likely to occur.

The type of family unit is a significant factor in underage sex. The children of married parents are the least likely to engage in underage sex.

A significant variable is the quality of relationships and communication between parents and teenagers.

Where there is good communication between parents and teenagers and there is a relationship of love and trust the level of underage sex is drastically cut. Where the parents arealso religious or hold clear standards of morality this further reduces the incidence of underage sex.

  • Three-quarters (72%) of parents of sexually active 13 year-old girls in England do not know that their daughters are no longer virgins.
  • Nearly half of sexually active 13-15 year-olds have never discussed the subject of sex with either of their parents.
  • 65% of 13-15 year-old girls who are sexually active list their leisure activities as 'just hanging around outside', 28% say they go clubbing and 18% say they go to pubs. One in five young teenagers say they lost their virginity when they were drunk.
  • Only 8% of 13-15 year-old boys who are sexually active have any guidelines or rules of behaviour regarding girlfriends set by their parents.
  • One quarter of sexually active 13 year-old boys and girls have had four or more sexual partners. This is contributing to the rise of sexually transmitted diseases among young teenagers.

The most effective means of reducing underage sex is:

  • for parents to increase and improve the level of communication with their adolescent children;
  • for parents to take a greater interest in the leisure activities of their children;
  • for parents to exercise greater constraint upon their teenage children's freedom choice in regard to friendships, the places they go to, what they watch on TV and video, and what they read.
  • for parents to discuss questions of morality and sexual mores with their children in  order to encourage young people to form their own principles of morality and personal convictions regarding social-and familial values, including sexual behaviour

The research demonstrates that the key to reducing underage sex and thereby cutting the rate of unwanted teenage pregnancies lies very firmly in the hands of parents to create the right family environment of protectiveness, of love and trust.

Until the parents of young teenagers begin to take more responsibility for their children's behaviour the level of underage sex will not decline and teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases will continue to rise.

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