However, studies have indicated that the impact of the family on the teenage sexuality is not merely an issue of family structure. Factors within the family unit such as the respect that the child has for his parents and the level and type of communication must also considered.
In light of the fact that the influence of the family is decreasing in todays society it is important that new measures be developed to educate children about sex and sexuality. Children need to be protected from relying upon their peers for information on this important and life-altering activity. In this regard, community programs need to be developed to assist the parents who are concerned with this issue so that they can become effective sex educators. Although the role of the family is decreasing for many the family remains a primary source of information and advice. For these families, community sex education programs can provide parents with effective strategies for responding to the sexual curiosity of their children and for communicating sexual values.
Sexual education programs should be initiated at all levels of the educational process. (Wright) Traditionally, sex education programs have been geared only for teenagers but children of all ages have concerns with sexual issues and a comprehensive early program can lead to healthier sex attitudes as children approach adolescence. Programs geared to children of a specific age can provide the opportunity to address the concerns of children at a level that they understand and appreciate. Such programs would allow parents to respond to their childrens concerns with information that is appropriate for their childs developmental level.
Parents should also be taught how to convey their values to their children. Too often parents are reluctant to talk about sensitive issues such as abortion, rape, homosexuality, and pre-marital sex. This reluctance may stem from a lack of information or from a general discomfort about discussing sexual issues, however, if parents want to convey their values to their children parents must be willing to either obtain the information or overcome their discomfort.
Research indicates that a parents willingness to discuss value-laden topics has a positive effect on the adoption of those values by ones children.
Finally, it is important that both fathers and mothers participate in the education of their children in regard to sexual activities. Too often the responsibility of sexual education falls upon the shoulders of mothers and the point of the view of the father is lost. This is particularly true in regard to fathers being involved in the sexual education their daughters. Programs should be initiated to assist fathers in approaching these sensitive issues.
In the final analysis, the responsibility of sexual education falls upon both the education system and parents jointly. Society must address the various problems that it is encountering in regard to teens and sex and the schools cannot do it on their own. Historically, schools were not involved in this process and the responsibility fell entirely upon parents. Presently, it is not realistic to expect that parents will assume the responsibility again but, with proper education and support, it may be possible to integrate parents back into the process. Doing so will undoubtedly increase the level of value sharing between parents and their children which will lessen the problems that society currently faces regarding teens and their sexual activities.
Lawlor, Debbie A. “Teenage pregnancy rates: high compared with where and when?” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (2004): 121-123.
McIlhaney, Joe S. “Sexually Transmitted infection and teenage sexuality.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2000): 334-339.
Miller, Kim S. “Family Communication about Sex: What are Parents Saying and Are their Adolescents Listening?” Family Planning Perspectives (1998): 218-235.
Wright, Daniel. “Limits of teacher delivered sex education: interim behavioral outcomes from randomised trial.” BMJ.