Intended for healthcare professionals


Increasing communication between parents and their children about sex

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 10 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a206
  1. Douglas Kirby, senior research scientist
  1. 1ETR Associates, Scotts Valley, CA 95066-4200, USA
  1. dougk{at}

    Workplaces should offer programmes to improve parents’ ability to talk with their children

    In the linked paper, Schuster and colleagues report a randomised controlled trial of a parenting programme that was implemented in the workplace—“Talking Parents, Healthy Teens”—to help parents discuss sexual health with their adolescent children.1

    Organisations concerned with adolescent sexuality and reproductive health have striven to increase parent-child communication about sex for several reasons. Firstly, many people believe that increasing such communication is important in itself. Secondly, in some communities, it is more widely accepted and less controversial for parents to express their sexual values and beliefs to their children than for teachers or other educators to talk about sex in the classroom. Thirdly, greater parent-child communication of values about sex and use of contraception is associated under some conditions with a delay in sex or greater use of contraception.2 Professionals concerned about unplanned teenage pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases think that increasing such communication can help reduce sexual risk taking in teenagers. Indeed, effective education programmes on sex and sexually transmitted …

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