Six in 10 American parents were raised thinking sex was “taboo” (60%), our online study suggests.

OnePoll asked 2,000 parents of children ages 5 to 18 to examine their own views about sex, including how they’ve addressed the topic with their kids. 

Fifty-eight percent of respondents have already spoken to their children about sex, and 21% plan to do so in the future. 

However, the same percentage (21%) don’t plan to bring up the “sex talk” at all. 

Surprisingly, 58% of parents whose kids are 10 to 13 and 57% of parents of kids 5 to 9 have given them “birds and the bees” talk

Half of parents of children ages 4 and under also had those conversations with them (51%).

Interestingly, men were more likely to discuss sex with their kids than women (61% vs. 56%). 

Of the 42% of parents who haven’t talked to their kids about sex:

  • 37% cited their child’s young age as the main reason.
  • Thirty-five percent reported that their kids are learning sex education in school
  • 26% said the other parent is taking the lead.
  • One in four admitted they would feel awkward while having those conversations about sex with their children (26%)

Regardless of those feelings, seven in 10 of all parents agree the “birds and the bees” talk should happen at an early age, specifically because of how often kids are exposed to similar topics on social media and in other parts of daily life. 

Dr. Sara C. Flowers, vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, encourages parents or caregivers to keep having ongoing conversations about sex rather than just having one “talk” to educate them. 

“These conversations are not one-and-done – they should start early and keep happening as kids change and grow,” she told SWNS. “For younger kids, this looks like knowing the correct names for all body parts. As kids grow up, they begin to understand what those body parts do. 

“Sex education happens in building blocks, just like math. We start by learning the basics, like numbers and counting, and over time the conversations build up to more complex subjects like calculus.”

Respondents were also asked if their parents had educated them about sex when they were younger. 

Nearly half said they received some form of the “sex talk”(47%), but another 30% never broached the subject.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said their parents avoided talking to them about sex because they were too young. 

Now, as parents themselves, respondents are trying to be more approachable to their kids. 

Seven in 10 said they want their children to feel comfortable discussing anything with them, even if it’s about sex education. 

“A great place to begin is creating a safer space for these conversations at home,” Flowers added. “The most important thing to remember is what you want your kid to get out of the conversation with you. For most parents and caregivers, we want our kids to feel comfortable coming to us with questions and feel confident that their questions will be met with support and honesty, not shame and judgment.”

This online study was conducted by OnePoll from February 8th through March 2nd 2022, with a sample of 2,000 American parents with children ages 5 to 18. As members of AAPOR – the American Association for Public Opinion Research, OnePoll researchers adhere to the principles and actions set out in the AAPOR Code.