Fathers Need "The Talk" With Children

Public health campaign is helping dads talk to their children about safe sex

(RxWiki News) Did you feel awkward asking your parents about sex? It turns out that parents aren't so eager either – especially fathers. A new study shows that a little education and encouragement can make Dad part of the sex talk.

The research team found that a campaign of public service announcements was effective with fathers in a study group, which overall showed a consistent, upward trend of father-child communication.

"Talk to your children about safe sex."

The study was conducted at RTI International and George Washington University with Jonathan L. Blitstein, PhD, as the lead author of the study. Blitstein is a research psychologist at RTI.

The aim of this study was to look at trends in parent-child communication on the topic of sex over an eighteen month period of time. Both mothers and fathers were included in the research but the study was mainly focused on the behavior and patterns of the fathers.

Public service announcements (PSAs) from the Parents Speak Up National Campaign – a multimedia social marketing campaign aimed at promoting parent-child communication about sex – were shown to more than 1,200 parents. These PSAs talked about the benefits of parents speaking to their children about waiting to have sex. There was also a control group of 700 parents that were not shown the PSAs.

The findings showed an upward trend in father-child communication as a result of watching the PSAs. The fathers who were not shown the PSAs did not show any improvement over the eighteen months.

The PSAs had little effect on the mother-child communication and the findings showed that mothers in both the PSA group and the control group were likely to talk to their children about sex regardless. Researchers found that the fathers whose communication improved generally were at the same levels as the mother-child communication levels.

The important thing is that the study showed that these types of communication patterns greatly benefit by repeat exposure to education and information on the topic.

Ultimately, the researchers believe that this study will highlight the potential for fathers to take a more active and involved role in talking to their children about sensitive and important issues.

The Parents Speak Up National Campaign is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services. This study was published in the September edition of The American Journal of Health Promotion

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Review Date: 
November 13, 2012