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The birds and the bees: an analysis of advice given to parents through the popular press.

There is a growing need for parents to communicate with their adolescents about sexuality, as teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. Many parents indicate that they lack information and feel uncomfortable communicating with their children about sex. The popular press regularly publishes articles on parenting issues, including how to discuss sex. In this study, 26 articles from 1984 to 1993 were reviewed, and the tone, quality of information, and advice given to parents on how to communicate were

analyzed. The articles reflected current research regarding parent-child sexual communication and provided much more detailed advice about how best to approach the topic with an adolescent. However, readership seemed to be primarily white and mothers in traditional families, and little advice was offered on how to handle

more difficult issues, such as contraception and AIDS. The findings suggest that the popular press could serve as an informational vehicle for educating both youth and parents about sexuality and how to have

productive discussions regarding this issue.

[entered 10/23/98 OHPE #77.2]