Teens look to parents more than friends for sexual role models

June 15, 2011, University of Montreal

The results of a national online study show that 45% consider their parents to be their sexuality role model. Shattering stereotypes that parents and society hold about teen sexuality, the survey also revealed that only 32% looked to their friends and just 15% took inspiration from celebrities. Dr. Jean-Yves Frappier, a researcher at the University of Montreal's affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre will be presenting the results at the Canadian Paediatric Society's 88th Annual Conference on June 18, 2011.

Importantly, the survey also revealed that many of the teenagers who look to their parents live in families where sexuality is openly discussed, and that moreover, 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 behaviours," Frappier said.

However, 78% of the mothers who participated in the survey believed that their children modeled their friends' , and that a lack of involvement of communication with fathers is especially detrimental. "Parents seem to underestimate their role and the impact that they have," Frappier noted. " 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."

The survey involved 1139 mothers of teenagers and 1171 youths between 14 and 17 years of age. The questionnaire touched on topics such as sources of sexual health information, communication about sexual health, family functioning and . This study was financed in part by a grant from Merck Frosst Co. The University of Montreal is known officially as Université de Montreal. The Research Centre of the CHU Sainte-Justine is known officially as the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine.

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