October is "Let's Talk Month." The month is a good time to think about how we, as parents, have important conversations with our teens about sexual health and healthy relationships. The good news is that we're doing it. According to a national survey, 90 percent of parents and 84 percent of teens report talking to one another about sex.
The not so great news? Teens and parents say they aren't as comfortable asking questions. According to the Hawaii Adolescent Reproductive Health Survey (2012), only 56 percent of Hawaii's adults felt prepared to discuss sexual topics with their children. Nationally, only 18 percent of teens say they feel very comfortable talking to their parents about sex. More importantly, teens are missing important information. While 50 percent of parents think they educated their teens on how to say "no" to sex before they were ready, only 21 percent of teens said they received that information. Young people were also less likely to report talking about healthy relationships and birth control.
Maui's teens need good information about their sexual health. Last year, Maui had the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the state. Parents play the most important role in preventing unplanned teen pregnancy - talking to their kids about sex. We can all work to make those important conversations better and make them happen more often.
Maui Health Educator
Planned Parenthood of Hawaii