Media campaigns are an effective tool in encouraging parents to talk with their children about sex, said US scientists.
Researchers in North Carolina studied the impact of a nine-month public awareness campaign on billboards, radio and television in their state with the slogan "Talk to your kids about sex. Everyone else is."
Results of a telephone survey of over 1,000 parents showed that the message had influenced them to talk to their children about sexual issues, the team at Brenner Children's Hospital and Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, wrote in the March issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"Parents are often concerned about the way schools teach sex education and the messages their children are exposed to on television and the internet," lead researcher Robert Durant said.
"But when parents convey their own values, attitudes and beliefs about sexual activity, birth control and pregnancy to their children it has a positive effect on their children's behaviour," he added.
North Carolina ranks ninth in the US for rates of teenage pregnancies, with 95 in every 1,000 teenage girls between 15 and 19 giving birth in 2000.