Parents appear to delay the 'birds and bees' talk with their children so much so that children begin to get sexually active much before the discussion, a US study has revealed.
Researchers at Harvard University questioned 141 teenagers in the ages of 13 to 17 and their parents to come up with their findings.
It was found that 40percent of boys and 46percent of girls had already become sexually active before their parents could talk to them about sex.
Two-thirds of the boys reported they had not spoken to parents about condom use before having intercourse.
"I think parents today want to talk to kids but they don't know where to begin," the New York Daily News quoted Dr. Mark Schuster, co-author of the study and chief of pediatrics at Children's Hospital in Boston, told ABC News.
He added: "They're afraid they'll make mistakes or don't know the facts, afraid to admit that their kids are growing up.... They avoid the topic altogether."
Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, told US News and World Report: "It's a hard subject for many parents to broach, but the level of sexual activity in many kids has moved up in terms of initiation. It's younger...Talking about it is very helpful in terms of disease prevention, unwanted pregnancy and even issues around relationships."
Megan Beckett, co-author and a social scientist from the Rand Corp, has called upon parents to kick off the "talk", "earlier than [they] think."
The study has been published in the journal Pediatrics.