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Latino Teens Say Parents Affect Decisions About Sex

Eastern Group Publications , News Report, Staff Posted: Jun 20, 2009

Parents, not TV, friends, teachers or even the clergy, have the biggest influence on whether a Latino teenager will decide to have sex, according to a recently released national survey.

When asked who or what most influenced their decisions about sex, Latino teens cited their parents more than any other source, according to the survey commissioned by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

Sponsors of the survey hope the information will be used to develop strategies to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies among Latino teenagers, who have the highest rate of teen pregnancies and births among all racial/ethnic groups.

While the latest numbers in California, based on 2007 data, show a small decline in the teen pregnancy rate from the year prior, national data shows that after 14 straight years of decline, the overall teen birth rate in the United States is on the increase. The National Campaign estimates that fully 53% of Latinas become pregnant as teens.

While Latino teen pregnancy has gained national attention in recent years, little work has been done to understand subgroup differences and similarities within the Latino community, said Ruthie Flores, Senior Manager, of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy Latino Initiative. We hope this survey shines much-needed light on the beliefs and attitudes of Latino teens and parents and helps inform teen pregnancy prevention efforts and messages nationwide.

Teens surveyed cited concerns about hiding contraceptives and mixed and contradictory messages, or double standards expressed by parents as reasons for not using contraceptives.

Other findings from the survey of Latino teens and adults include:

Forty-nine percent of Latino teens say parents most influence their decisions about sex compared to, for example, 14 percent who cited friends, 6 percent other family members, 3 percent religious leaders, 2 percent teachers, and 2 percent the media.

Although three-quarters of Latino teens say their parents have talked to them about sex and relationships, only half (49 percent) say their parents have talked to them about contraception.

Seventy-four percent of Latino teens believe that parents send one message about sex to their sons and a different message altogether to their daughters.

Latino teens in this survey report that the most common reason why teens do not use contraception is because they are afraid their parents might find out.

Seventy-two percent of sexually experienced teens say they wish they had waited longer.

Thirty-four percent of Latino teens believe that being a teen parent would prevent them from reaching their goals; 47 percent say being a teen parent would simply delay them from reaching their goals.

Seventy-six percent of Latino teens say it is important for a couple to be married before starting a family or having a child.

Scant attention has been paid to what motivates the behavior of Latino teens with regard to relationships said Maria Rosa, DrPH, Ph.D., National Council of La Raza, Vice President, Institute for Hispanic Health.The poll findings are a catalyst for an important and much needed conversation about how to reverse the rising rates of teen pregnancy in the Latino community.

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