Nationally, a non-trivial portion of teens engage in sexual activity before the age of 13. By ninth grade, one teen in three has had sex, and by 12th grade, two in three. Early sexual activity is associated with a host of enduring negative consequences that include increased risks of psychological and physical harm, teen pregnancy and unwed childbearing, poverty, and marital instability later in life.Social science research over the decades suggests that parents can play a protective role in delaying early teen sexual activity and reducing the risk of harmful consequences. Importantly, the empirical evidence indicates that childhood family structure, teens’ perceptions of parental disapproval of teen sex, and the quality of the parent-child relationship appear to affect teen sexual behavior. The evidence on parental monitoring and parent-child communication, in general and specifically about sex-related topics, appears more mixed.Consequently, programs and policies focused on reducing teen sexual activity and the damaging results should encourage parents’ presence and involvement in the lives of their children. Policies that discourage parental involvement, such as dispensing contraceptives to teens without parental consent, contradict the weight of social science evidence and should be opposed.
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ht – CPYU