Talking specifically about teens, Besser said that "even though there's so much information on prevention available - literally at your fingertips - it seems like it's not always getting through." So, to help parents initiate the "big talk" with their children, Besser sat down with a group of six young adults to ask them how their parents discussed "your values" and the "information on prevention available."
Out of the six panelists, not a single one mentioned abstinence playing a part in their "big talk."
In fact, their responses conveyed the idea that parents these days expect their teenagers to be sexually active and so their sex talks sounded more like how-to pamphlets on contraceptive devices than a parent to child heart-to-heart about the emotional and physical implications of having sex.
"I remember I was about 13 or 14," said the 21-year-old Chelsea Biemiller. "[My mom's] version of the talk was basically, the first time you have sex, it will hurt; it will be painful; it will be scary, and I want you to promise to come and tell me before you do anything."
"My mom said, if you have sex, wear a condom," 20-year-old Agron Kovangi said. "That was basically the talk."
Even the panelists seemed aware that sex has some scary ramifications. "I think you'd be hard pressed to find any person in their 20's that hasn't had some kind of sexuality scare," claimed Biemiller, "whether it be pregnancy or STDs or something like that, because you are going to make mistakes."
Dr. Besser conveniently forgot to mention that the best protection against pregnancy and STDs is abstinence. Instead, he worried about parents clearly explaining to their children "where you could get condoms or how you could protect yourself."
"A recent study found that 70 percent of teen boys reported that they had not discussed how to use a condom or other birth control methods," Besser said. "42 percent of teen girls reported that they had not discussed the effectiveness of birth control with their parents."
Besser concluded that "being young is all about making mistakes and hopefully learning from them. That's why it's so important to be able to talk."