Parents are the biggest sexual role models for teenagers – more than friends or celebrities, according to a study in Canada.
The study by CHU Saint-Justine, a university hospital in Montreal, showed 45% of teenagers see their parents as sexual role models. Only 32 per cent look to their friends and 15% to celebrities. A third (33%) said they have no sexual role model at all.
The options in the survey were not exclusive because respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer.
Jean-Yves Frappier, co-author of the survey, said teenagers are more likely to be sexually active if they look to their friends as role models (regardless of whether their parents were also an influence on them). This suggests peer pressure is a key factor in whether teenagers become sexually active.
“Parents probably are shy to discuss sexuality and perhaps enter into that domain because they think they are not in the game – which is not true,” Frappier said. “Yes, (teens) want to become independent, but what we forget is that they have been living with their parents for years and they are probably still very important.
“We forget Britney Spears and Brad Pitt are only pictures. Parents are the real substance.”
The survey asked 1,171 teens across the country where and how they learn about sex, their family dynamic and friendships, and sexual activity.
The study also showed teenagers are more willing to ask Mum (61%) about sex than Dad (28%).
“Parents need to step in, and schools also,” Frappier added. “They are important even though they feel like they are left out. It’s the job of parents to stay on.”