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December 7th, 2009
09:52 AM ET

Study: 40% of children have sex before 'the talk'

If you're a parent you know the sex talk is never easy. It can be awkward and often our children are mortified by it.

That may be one reason the talk so often comes after the fact. At least that's what a new study has found. Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen reports.


Filed under: Health
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Deion

    was this about walking in my footsteps i go to fairmont heights high school im 15 in the tenth grade and i need a answer from you for homework.

    December 15, 2009 at 7:29 pm |
  2. ann

    Stop teaching sex to kids in schools at such a young age. From the beginning of time ,humans, like animals figure it out in their own way. That is something in nature that does not need to be taught. Think about it !

    December 8, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  3. Greg

    Starting the discussion early is really the best thing. I remember having conversations with my parents about looking for the right person and getting married before having sex. This goes back to when I was really little when my parents taught me which parts of my body were off limits to others. I thought it was odd at the time, when I was five years old, but it made a big difference in how I thought about sex as I went through school. As I got closer to high school, I found out that there were more kids like me, who were waiting for that special person and marriage before taking that step in a relationship. As we reached the higher grades and eventually graduated, some broke away from that idea of waiting for marriage and I think it had something to do with not wanting to have to follow in their parent’s footsteps, but at least those who did have sex before marriage had made it to adulthood and were able to make those decisions on their own. The first initial conversations make a big difference. I can’t say I wasn’t tempted a few times when I was younger, but I knew what was at stake, my personal health and self respect. This has prepared me for when I become a parent and even though it will still be tough as heck raising kids, I understand how difficult it will be and so I will not be caught off guard like some of those kids who have no idea what raising a kid will be like and end up with a child. I know I’m not ready yet, as a 19 year old college student, but having those conversations with my parents when I was younger actually gave me more freedom then it “supposedly” took away.

    December 7, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  4. FL Girl

    I think that in today's world, by 6th grade parents need to have had the talk, or a series of talks covering it all with their children. Sex is a natural part of life and parents need to give their children the facts before friends and TV distort the reality. Sex is good and wonderful, but there are also inherent risks that children need to know about so that they can make good choices. The physical and emotional risks involved with sexual intimacy really aren't for children and they desperately need their parents guidance. I'm a little surprised that in our culture, with sex in the forefront all the time, that parents would think waiting to have "the talk" until high school would be early enough. A few awkward moments early on is far better than your child getting a possibly fatal STD, or getting pregnant, or being emotionally scarred.

    December 7, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  5. millie

    Maybe parents need to get a clue and start paying attention to their kids a little earlier.....especially if 40% are already having sex. The high percentage tells me that parents aren't paying attention!!!

    December 7, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  6. charlie

    So frustrating to see how insular (US obsessed) CNN still is despite it's claims to be international. And how unscientific to have a topic focused on age at which kids have sex but not refer to the ages in the findings.
    This is a Genuine question from a European.
    How old is a 9th grader, 10th ?

    December 7, 2009 at 9:31 pm |
  7. YB

    I saw that same story on CNN Tonight at about 7:40pm ET and as much as I think this is a good topic to talk about it struck me how the entire discussion was permeated by misogyny – in the video above, Ms. Cohen says that not a lot of "girl" have that conversation about "saying no" and "self-respect." In the CNN Tonight story, the report specifically featured 2 questions which girls have been asked: one on birth/std control discussion, and the other on "saying no" discussion. For boys, however, only the statistic from birth/std control was shown, not the "saying no" statistic. I hope this question was included in the study itself, but the fact that it was omitted by the report is telling.

    On both this segment and the one from CNN Tonight "self respect" and "saying no even if it makes you unpopular" conversations were mentioned in respect to girls, and none in respect to boys. Now tell me, do teenage boys not have sex because they want to be popular? Because of peer pressure? Anyone who's ever spent any time in the company of teenage boys can attest to the fact that there is just as much peer pressure for them to have sex as there is for girls. And discussing"saying no" techniques for girls while omitting those for boys sets a dangerous perception that girls are the ones responsible for smart sexual decisions, not boys. Stop with the boys will be boys mentality already, CNN.

    Another day, another gender equality FAIL. Way to go, CNN.

    December 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm |
  8. Jay Winston

    Should schools give condoms to students?

    Sure. And why not provide a safe environment to use those condoms also? After all, how many times have young people been told to study hard?

    December 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm |