Sex Education for Youth & Teenagers
The culture and society portray sex topics as an abomination, something shameful that should not be discussed in the open, especially in the presence of youths. In reality, sex education is essential for adults and children to be equipped with the knowledge and safer choices. Sexual topics can bring about different emotions, from fear to anxiety and tension for the parents and the child. Studies have shown that having sex education with kids has been linked to lower chances of engaging in sexually related activities. According to a recent poll by Sex Education Forum, the majority of young people acquire most of their knowledge of sexuality at home.
There is no particular right age to start this conversation, as it can be initiated from far back as the toddler stage. Sexual education isn’t about discussing how not to have sex; it covers extensive topics like anatomy, intimacy, friendship, pregnancy, STIs, contraception, and masturbation. Sexual talks should be initiated based on age and developmental stages:
After five years, The process should start when they start talking so that the genital names can be incorporated into everyday activities. Teaching them to identify their sexual organs should come naturally, just like other body parts. This is useful for several reasons. One is for medical-related reasons; they will be able to name where and what hurts. Also, suppose they experience sexual abuse in any form. In that case, they will be able to describe it appropriately, reducing shame and negative body image that might be associated with these body parts.
At 5-8, Children should start to get informed about who should not touch these body parts, and if someone touches any, they should be encouraged to speak up as soon as possible.
From age 9-12 onward, puberty-related topics can begin. What is puberty? Different body changes, including your own experiences, can be shared. Ask questions and encourage them to ask questions as well. You can also buy a book on the topic to open up more information. Gradually, sexual practices should be introduced from this stage onwards, what it is, how it is done, why they should be avoided, pregnancy issues, STIs, etc. It is also essential to talk about safe sex practices.
From age 15 and above, these topics can be explored further. Most kids are sexually active by this age. In-depth conversations about sexuality, boys, and girls’ issues, love and romance, and sexual abuse can be initiated.
HOW TO START
Take advantage of different teaching moments, like when watching a related movie, or maybe something similar happened to a friend or relative. These conversations should be held in a safe environment, from an open point, to decrease fear, and encourage active learning and discussion. If you still cannot bring yourself to have this conversation, you can seek support from others like parents, teachers, and therapists. This is an ongoing process.
What you should do during the conversation
- Establish a trusting relationship, an intimate parent-child bond that is safe and strong
- The content should be based on the maturity level and age of the child.
- Use plain and unambiguous language to communicate, even if it gets uncomfortable.
- Explain what is meant by sexual abuse, its different types, and the implication, and encourage them to speak to you if something similar has happened before, on if it happens.
- You can share your puberty experience story, fears, mistakes, if any, what you wish you knew and how you navigated through it successfully.
- Talk about the ABC of safe sex practices, from abstinence to the use of condoms. Abstinence is not always the only method you can present to a teen; you can talk about others too, just present it in a good way.
- Encourage them to ask questions about just anything and answer them appropriately.
These are the don’ts
- Refrain from the use of slang derogatory sexual-related terms
- Do not be embarrassed to seek support elsewhere as necessary.
- Do not embarrass them if they ask about certain sexual topics, their body, or even masturbation.
Advising your children appropriately about sex and relationship
Bring sex topics into everyday conversation; Make it seems like a normal chat, so it can encourage teens to open up and feel secure. It can also boost their self-confidence.
Fill the gap between what they know and what they do not; It might be surprising to find out how much knowledge they have amazed from life, friends, media, and experiences. It is important to find out how much they know, assess if they have the correct information, correct their misconception, and educate them on what they do not know.
Let them know it’s okay to have these sexual feelings; The sexual urge that sometimes comes with puberty, including the curiosity to try new things, can get misleading. However, preparing them for this and letting them feel secure about it can reduce the negative impact.
Let them know about the law; It is illegal to have sex with an under 16. Also, educate them on sexual consent, respective relationships, rape, and other forms of sexual abuse, including the impacts of this on their physical and mental health and how to prevent and protect themselves.
Parents should also help their kids define a healthy relationship and the difference between obsession, attraction, love, and flirts. They should also let them know about the common forms of sexual harassment.