For Teens, Parents Remain Key Influencers, but Trusted Adults Have an Important Role to Play

May 25 2017

(Washington, DC)Teens consistently say that parents most influence their decisions about relationships and sex, but according to new data released today by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, there is a broader role for 20-somethings and other trusted adults to positively influence young people’s decisions about sex, love, and relationships.

According to a new, nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 adults age 18-65 released during Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month in May, more than 90% of those surveyed agree that young people should have a trusted adult or network—such as a peer or community group, a club or team, or a mentor—to provide them with information and guidance on sensitive topics. Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) adults consider themselves someone that a younger person would come to as a trusted source of information.

“Today’s survey results show how important a trusted adult, such as a parent, aunt, or older sibling, can play a positive and influential role in the lives of young people,” said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “Teens are listening, and in today’s world which is full of many complexities, young people, now more than ever, want and need a trusted network that provides positive guidance about sex, love, and relationships.”

Confidence in being a trusted adult—and experience with providing counsel to young people on issues like sex, love, and relationships—tends to increase with age. The youngest respondents, those 18-34, considered themselves the least likely to be a trusted source of information on sensitive topics. Similarly, that age group was the least likely to report having ever given a young person information or advice on sex, love, relationships, or birth control. Among the results of the survey:

  • More than 8 in 10 (83%) non-Hispanic Black respondents consider themselves a trusted source of information on sensitive topics.
  • More than 7 in 10 (75%) of 35-54 year-old respondents consider themselves a trusted source of information on sensitive topics.
  • The likelihood that an adult had ever given a young person information or advice on sex, love, relationships, or birth control increases with age, beginning at age 45.

In 2016, as The National Campaign celebrated our 20th anniversary, we set a new target for our next 20 years of work. Included is our vision that all young people have a trusted adult or social network with which they can discuss sex, relationships, and their futures.

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, a time for teens and adults alike to focus their attention on topics like birth control, healthy relationships, and sex. Throughout the month of May, teens and their parents are encouraged to visit to play a brand new interactive game and take the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Quiz, both released this month. For additional Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month resources and ways to get involved, visit our TPP Month web portal.

About the survey: Data presented here are drawn from a national web survey, written by The National Campaign and conducted using Google Surveys, May 2017. Interviews were conducted among 2,007 respondents who volunteered to participate in Google online surveys and polls, and data are subsequently weighted to reflect the demographic composition of men and women ages 18 and older who are internet users. Google’s reports state a margin of error of +/- 2.1% at the 95% confidence level, which provides a helpful indication of the variability in these results; however, we note that because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation, this estimate rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. Numbers may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

About The National Campaign: The National Campaign is a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives and future prospects of children and families by preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy. Please visit us at or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.