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MU Research Suggests Older Sisters Play a Significant Role in Sex Education

Sara Shahriari / KBIA

When she was a teenager, Stephanie Guberman relied on her older sister, Lisa, to tell her about awkward topics like dating, relationships and sex. She said she turned to her sister more often than her mother.

“I do think Stephanie talked to Lisa more than she did to me,” said Karen Guberman, who added that she is grateful Stephanie had an older sister to confide in. “They may be more comfortable talking about those things with each other.”

It makes sense that a teenage girl would rather go to her older sister with a question about sex instead of asking her mom, Karen Guberman noted.

Researcher Sarah Killoren, an associate professor in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Science, recently confirmed in a study that sisters significantly influence each other on topics of dating and sexuality.

She challenged the mindset that talking about sex and relationships has to be uncomfortable and found that sisters can help provide the same guidance they could get from a parent.

Over the past four years, Killoren studied 62 pairs of sisters, exploring the messages and conversations they communicated to each other on topics like healthy sex and relationships.

“Siblings can influence each other,” she said. “There’s research that shows that. Researchers might be missing something that could be helpful for families.”

To view the entire story, visit columbiamissourian.com