Why does the left keep insisting that the only people qualified to talk to teenagers about sex is the government? Attacking Sarah Palin in today’s Washington Post Amy Schalet writes:

American teenagers grow up in environments that inhibit them from making conscious choices about sex and using contraception effectively. Sarah Palin supports programs that contribute to that environment, favoring policies that prohibit teachers from explaining the benefits of contraception and condoms and that require teaching that sex outside of marriage is unacceptable.

Schalet seems to believe that the only way to get teens to make better decisions about sex is to require them to share their sex lives with the government. Never mind that all the best available research shows that birth control education doesn’t work.

So what does work? Parental influence. Heritage analyst Christine Kim reviews:

The empirical evidence on the association between parental influences and adolescents’ sexual behavior is strong. Parental factors that appear to offer strong protection against the onset of early sexual activity include an intact family structure; parents’ isapproval of adolescent sex; teens’ sense of belonging to and satisfaction with their families; parental monitoring; and, to a lesser extent, parent-child communication about teen sex and its consequences.

Therefore, Kim recommends:

That parents play a role in teen sex points to at least two significant policy implications. First, programs and policies that seek to delay sexual activity or to prevent teen pregnancy or STDs should encourage and strengthen family structure and parental involvement. Doing so may increase these efforts’ overall effectiveness. Conversely, programs and policies that implicitly or explicitly discourage parental involvement, such as dispensing contraceptives to adolescents without parental consent or notice, contradict the weight of social science evidence and may prove to be counterproductive and potentially harmful to teens.