Kids Ready to Talk About Today's Tough
Issues Before Their Parents Are: Sex, AIDS, Violence, Drugs,
National Survey Finds That Kids In Families Who Talk Openly
About Sex and Relationships Are More Likely to Say They Would
Turn to Their Parent First if Faced with A Crisis
MARCH 1, 1999
Tina Hoff or Ashley Koff, Kaiser Family Foundation, (650) 854-9400
Vernaé Graham or Stella Richardson, Children Now, (510)
The "big talk" is bigger than ever with kids
wanting to know much more from their parents than just the "birds-and-the-bees."
A new survey of parents and kids ages 10-15 conducted by the Kaiser
Family Foundation and Children
Now, as part of a national initiative called Talking With
Kids About Tough Issues, finds that many families
are still waiting too long and not talking enough when it comes
to what their kids say they need to know.
surprise many parents is that the issues they are not talking aboutas
well as even some they feel they have already talked aboutare
what their kids want to know more about. High on a list of topics
10-12 year olds say they personally want more information
protect against HIV/AIDS (50% of kids want more information);
do if someone brings a gun to school (50% of kids want more information);
handle pressure to have sex (44% of kids want more information);
know when you are ready to have sex (43% of kids want more information);
and drugs might affect decisions to have sex (43% of kids want more
Big Talk(s)" About Today's Tough Issues
When parents sit down today with their children to have
the "big talk" the subject matter usually covers topics
their own parents never imagined. (And, for that matter, it shouldn't
just be a single conversation, say experts). At least three out
of four parents of 10-12 year olds say they have talked with their
pre-teen about drugs or alcohol (90%); violence (85%); drinking
and driving (82%); AIDS (78%); and how girls get pregnant (73%).
parents of 10-12 year olds are steering clear of some of
the more difficult conversations about sex, including:
How to handle peer pressure to
have sex (46% of parents have not discussed);
know when you are ready to have sex (50% of parents have not
and drugs might affect decisions to have sex (46% of parents have
not discussed); and
prevent pregnancy and STDs (62% of parents have not discussed).
'big talk' isn't what it used to be. It now needs to be supersized,"
said Matt James, Senior Vice President, Kaiser Family Foundation.
"When parents today talk with their kids about tough issues
that means covering the basics, plus a whole lot more."
Experts say that kids benefit when their parents talk early
and often with them about "tough issues." For the 57%
of parents of 10-15 year olds who have talked openly with their
children about sex, including relationships and becoming sexually
active, there is some encouraging news.
found their kids were more likely than those whose parents had not
talked with them to report going first to a parent ...
were dealing with pressure to have sex (72% of 10-15 year olds who
talked with their parents vs. 57% who did not);
were thinking about having sex (67% of 10-15 year olds who talked
with their parents vs. 51% who did not); and
were worried about being or having gotten someone pregnant (66%
of 13-15 year olds who talked with their parents vs. 49% who did
According to the survey,
pre-teens name their mothers as one of their top sources when it
comes to sex, AIDS, violence, drugs and alcohol. But, even among
10-12 year olds, television/movies are already tied with moms and
schools/teachers as a place where kids say they get "a lot"
of their information (all named by 38%). Fathers come in a close
second (34%). When kids enter the teen years, the competition heats
up with friends (64%) and television/movies (61%) becoming much
more dominant influences in their lives. Schools and teachers rank
third (44%) and mothers are fifth (38%), just below the Internet
have a powerful window of opportunity if they talk with their children
early and often," said Lois Salisbury, President, Children
Now. "The Talking With Kids About Tough Issues
campaign encourages parents to use everyday activities, including
TV programs, events at school and issues with friends, as talk opportunities."
Talking With Kids About Tough Issues Campaign
survey was conducted as part of Talking With Kids
About Tough Issues, a national campaign to support
parents by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a national independent
health care philanthropy (not associated with Kaiser Permanente),
and Children Now, a non-partisan voice for America's children.
A special report on the survey results appears in the April
1st issue of Family Circle, which contributed
to the development of the survey. Talking With Kids
About Tough Issues encourages and helps parents
talk with their kids earlier and more often about topics
such as sex, AIDS, violence, alcohol and drugs.
campaign provides direct assistance to parents with free
booklets and other resources that are available by calling
1-800-CHILD 44, or online at http://www.talkingwithkids.org
. A new series of public service messages encouraging family
talks, produced by J. Walter Thompson New York under an
Ad Council initiative, will begin airing around the country
in March. Additionally, the April 1st issue of Family
Circle includes an 8-page Talking With Kids
booklet as a pull-out for its readers.
information call: Andrea Miller or Susan Lamontagne at Media Strategies,
Inc. (212) 260-1520.
the National Survey:
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