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Researchers from North Carolina State University, in Raleigh, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reviewed medical literature including 52 previous articles on the topic that spanned 30 years of research and included more than 25,000 adolescents.Their analysis found that parent-adolescent communication about sex had a small but significant positive effect on safer sex behavior in teens, increasing their likelihood of using condoms and contraceptives.

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Kids are bombarded with messages about sex at a young age.

Take advantage of those "teachable moments.""It's in our media all the time. Find ways to talk to them at a level that they might understand.

That association was stronger for girls and stronger for adolescents who discussed sexual topics with their moms.

The study authors also reported that the link between parent communication and a teen's contraceptive and condom use was significantly stronger for girls than boys."Results of this study confirm that parent-adolescent sexual communication is a protective factor for youth," they wrote. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47 percent of all high school students in the U. have had sex at least once, and one-third are sexually active.

UCLA's Moscicki said, "Their sexuality is not the parents' business, but parents can be there to give accurate information."She said you can tell your child you're worried about his or her safety and approach it in the same way you might discuss drinking, explaining that you don't agree with drinking at a party, but you really don't want anyone to get behind the wheel drunk.

Like it or not, Moscicki said, "Kids are doing things. Instead, be a resource; ask, "Do you know where to get condoms or get birth control?Moscicki said kids may start asking questions by age six or seven, when they start hearing and seeing things on television, the Internet, or at school.Answer their questions, she said, but keep it age-appropriate.The idea is that if you start talking early on, as your child gets older, talking about sex and its consequences will not be a taboo subject."Let's not wait till your 13-year-old is pregnant to have a conversation," said Moscicki.She also reassured parents that talking about sex does not make your kid want to have sex.DON'T be judgmental or punitive"Don't shut kids down," said Walker.

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