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How to Answer Kids' Questions on Sex

( [email protected] ) May 21, 2007 12:29 PM EDT

Every parent at one point in time has to answer the much-feared question from their children: What is sex?

Most parents are often hesitant to address the topic of sex or unsure of what to say to their kids or when to talk about it. The Austin-based Medical Institute just released a guide that helps parents answer even the toughest questions.

Questions Kids Ask About Sex: Honest Answers for Every Age lists specific questions kids have about sex, such as "What is puberty?" "What is intercourse?" and "Is oral sex the same as sex?"

The paperback book comes as faith groups have expressed increased concern over the rate of teens having sex and how little parents know about the pressures their children face and the sexual activity they may already be engaging in.

The American population today lives in a sexualized culture like no other in American history. Today's generation of teens views 16 to 17 hours of television each week and sees on average 14,000 sexual scenes and references each year, according to prominent youth organization Teen Mania. And this generation spends three hours a day online and is the first to grow up with point-and-click pornography. Almost 90 percent of teens have viewed pornography online at one of the 300,000 adult websites, most while doing homework.

The concern over sexual pressure on teens or the prevalence of sexual activity doesn't pass over Christian teens or youth who have pledged abstinence.

At least 50 percent of 11- to 15-year-olds are engaging in oral sex, according to Dannah Gresh, bestselling author of And the Bride Wore White and co-founder of Pure Freedom ministry. Some communities have labeled the sexual activity "Christian sex," arguing that it technically is not intercourse.

But there is a lack or response and proactiveness in the churches, says Gresh. "A lot of churches are afraid to talk about it," she said.

An earlier survey by VitalSmarts also revealed the difficulty parents are having on confronting their kids or discussing a teen's everyday concerns.

According to the survey, 57 percent of parents admit to having some degree of difficulty in getting their teens involved in meaningful conversations about their concerns. Yet studies have shown that teens want their parents to talk to them about sex. Iowa State University adolescent sexuality researcher Ronald Werner-Wilson said adolescents want to talk to their parents but they don't want the one-time talks or lectures. Rather, they want a conversation and an ongoing dialogue.

The newly released guide harnesses research from The Medical Institute, providing moral and medically-researched answers to questions from kids of every age and also answers to questions that parents might have when talking with their children about sex. Such questions include: "How do I explain the process of making love to my child?" "Is it too early to promote sexual abstinence to my child?" and "How can I help my son avoid sexual pressures from his peers?"

The Medical Institute is a non-profit research institute with over ten years of experience in educating government officials, health care professionals, parents and the media about sexually transmitted diseases.