Teen sex: Moms may have big impact on girls
(CNN) -- A close relationship with their mothers is a strong factor for girls who delay having sex for the first time, but the same doesn't hold true for boys, researchers at the University of Minnesota announced Wednesday.
Their report is based on data from the largest existing databank on adolescent health, which includes surveys with 90,000 teenagers and which the National Institute of Child and Human Development sponsors.
For the report, several thousand follow-up interviews were conducted with mothers and teens in their homes, said lead researcher Dr. Robert Blum, a pediatrics professor with the University of Minnesota's Center for Adolescent Health and Development.
The research, said Blum, suggests a strong relationship helps convey a parent's values to a child. "Kids who are close to their moms are much more tuned in and in sync with what their moms' values," he said.
Researchers also found that kids often don't get the message when their parents strongly disapprove of them having sex.
When mothers strongly disapproved of their kids having sex, 30 percent of girls and nearly 50 percent of boys didn't think that was the case, the report said. But kids who accurately perceived their mothers' strong disapproval of sex were more likely to wait longer to have sex, it found.
"Simply stating parents' disapproval of teen sex is not enough," the researchers wrote in their report. "Clearly, some teenagers do not get the message."
That discovery parallels what others studying teens' behavior have found.
"If their parents have not really talked with them about behavior -- whether they want them or think they should be sexually involved or not -- then the young person's perception is that it doesn't make a difference to parents," said Marie Mitchell, director of teen reproductive health services for Grady Health Systems in Atlanta, Georgia.
Among other findings:
Blum said working with parents can be an effective way to reach children.
"This report adds weight to what we've been seeing, and that is that parents matter in the lives of kids," he said.
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