February 20, 1997 in Nation/World

Kids Want More Sex Information Than Parents Willing To Give

San Jose Mercury News

Children often want to know more about sex and other sensitive subjects than parents are willing to discuss, according to a survey made public Wednesday by two San Francisco Bay Area groups as part of a national campaign to get families talking more about such things.

The study overseen by Children Now, a child advocacy group in Oakland, and Kaiser Family Foundation of Menlo Park, found the birds and the bees to be high on the list of things children want to know about. And among the 10-to 12-year-olds surveyed, 90 percent said they would be most likely to seek information from their parents.

But relatively few parents of children that age and younger said they have had such chats.

Only 62 percent of the mothers and fathers of 8- to 12-year-olds said they had spoken with their children about how babies are born, 42 percent had discussed “becoming sexually active” and 30 percent had talked about how to prevent pregnancy.

“On a number of issues, parents are not initiating conversations,” said Lois Salisbury, Children Now’s president. And when they are willing to discuss such matters, she added, in many cases “they are not taking issues to the level or depth that kids are hungry for.”

The hot-button issue that most parents said they had discussed with their children was alcohol and drugs. According to the survey, 94 percent of parents of 8- to 12-year-olds said they discussed those issues with their kids.

The surveys of 365 children aged 10 to 15 and 564 parents were conducted in October and November, with the assistance of Princeton Survey Research Associates, as part of a national campaign dubbed “talking with kids about tough issues.” It was largely financed by the Kaiser foundation, which kicked in more than $1.5 million.

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