Parents of Hispanic teens in the United States have the most influence on their kids’ decisions about sex, according to a new national survey. The birth rate among teens overall in the United States is rising after 14 years of decline. Among racial and ethnic groups, the rate of teen pregnancy and births is highest among Hispanic teens, with 53 percent of Hispanic females becoming pregnant when they’re teens, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the National Council of La Raza, which co-sponsored the survey.
The survey, which included 759 Hispanic teens and 915 Hispanic adults, found that 49 percent of the teens said their decisions about sex are influenced by their parents. Other influences included friends (cited by 14 percent), other family members (6 percent), religious leaders (3 percent), teachers (2 percent) and the media (2 percent).
About three-quarters of the teens said their parents had talked to them about sex and relationships, but only 49 percent said their parents had talked to them about contraception. The most common reason why the teens said they did not use contraception was fear that their parents might find out about it.
The survey also found that:
* 74 percent of Hispanic teens think that parents send different messages about sex to their sons than they do to their daughters.
* 72 percent of sexually experienced teens said they wished they had waited longer to become sexually active.
* 34 percent of the teens said that becoming a teen parent would prevent them from reaching their goals, while 47 percent believe being a teen parent would simply delay them from achieving their goals.
* 76 percent of Hispanic teens said that it’s important for a couple to be married before having a child.
“Scant attention has been paid to what motivates the behavior of Latino teens with regard to relationships,” Maria Rosa, vice president of La Raza’s Institute for Hispanic Health, said in a news release from the organization. “The poll’s 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.”
Ruthie Flores, senior manager of the campaign’s Latino Initiative, said in the news release that the groups “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.”
The Nemours Foundation has more about teen sexual health.
— Robert Preidt
SOURCE: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, news release, May 19, 2009