Sex Education Today. Attention Parents!

Many parents don't discuss sex with their child until they discover their teen has already made difficult sexual decisions. By this time the teen has probably already engaged in sexual activity. Because the child was not encouraged to discuss sexually related issues from an early age, the teen will feel uncomfortable with the subject matter at this point in time. As a result the teen might lie or tell the parents what they want to hear in order to avoid an awkward situation. The parents may also feel uncomfortable discussing the subject matter with their child and will have difficulty initiating such a conversation.

Experts urge parents to begin appropriate discussions about sexual issues when their children are very young. These discussions will establish sex as an acceptable topic of conversation, let your child know that you are available to help with difficult issues and establish a level of comfort between you and your child for talking about important issues that could have detrimental effects on your child's health. It's never too early to open these discussions. Children have a natural sexual curiosity. It starts within their first year of life, when they discover their genitals. Children can start masturbating anywhere from the age of 2 to their high school years. As soon as a child notices that their allowed to see one parent in the nude and not the other, or can differentiate between boys and girls, they will have a curiosity about the opposite sex and the parts that make us different. Don't freak out if you find your child half-dressed playing doctor with the kid next door. This simply represents one more reminder that it's never too early to explain to a child what's appropriate behavior.

Children should know:

  • It's not OK for anyone to touch their private area unless they're getting a doctor's physical under your supervision.
  • You are the one they can talk to about private matters.
  • You promise to not get upset.
  • It's OK to explore their own bodies in private.
  • Eventually they should know the risks and responsibilities associated with being sexually active.

The discussion needs to begin now.

Discussion pointers

  • Prepare yourself. Start by formulating answers to questions your child might ask. Taylor those answers to match your child's age or level of intelligence.
  • Don't condescend a teenagerby using language that makes you more comfortable and sacrifices details and important information.
  • Approach your child casually. Make them feel comfortable. Joking is one way to quickly establish a casual atmosphere. Although sex itself is definitely not a laughing matter, you need someway to put the child at ease, and laughter just happens to be one of the most effective ways of doing that. It also makes the conversation more enjoyable and thus more likely to continue as they grow up.
  • Don't leave questions unanswered. If you can't think of an appropriate answer on the spot, let them know it was a terrific question and get back to them the same day.
  • Avoid showing shock or anger. These emotions can send the message that sex is dirty, harmful or frightening and may have consequences on you child's ability to function socially.

When deciding when to divulge the intricacies of sexual intercourse, remember

Girls can have their first menstrual period between the ages of 9 and 12. Eggs can exist in a girl's reproductive tract just before their first menstruation. Thus as hard as it is to believe, it is very rare but possible for girls to become pregnant as early as age 9. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends making sure your child understands the following before reaching their early teens:

  • The names and functions of male and female sex organs.
  • What happens during puberty and that those changes signify moving into young womanhood or young manhood.
  • The function of the menstrual cycle.
  • What sexual intercourse is and how females become pregnant.

If you don't talk to your children about sex, their friends will.
Studies have shown that children who learn about sex from their friends start having sex earlier than children who learn about sex from their parents.

Do not assume your children's school is teaching them what they need to know.

Only 18 of the 52 states require schools to provide sex education and the ones that do might be pushing abstinence while shielding their students' eyes from information they need to understand the full dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy. According to a study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, education on abstinence has increased, while education on contraception, abortion, and the prevention and treatment of STDs has declined. This trend progressively leaves sexually active teens in the dark about how to protect their bodies against pregnancy and STDs. The study also reported that the majority of teachers think students need to learn more, and at a younger age, about STDs, correct condom use and resisting peer pressure in addition to abstinence. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 90% of parents wanted their children to be taught how to deal with sexual assault, while only 59% of the students reported covering the subject. 90% of parents wanted their children to learn about birth control, while only 80% of children reported doing so. A study by the World Health Organization found that "abstinence only" programs are less effective against pregnancy and STDs than comprehensive sexual education programs.

The counter argument provided by Heather Cirmo, a spokeswoman for the Family Research Council, argues that if children are taught chastity is the norm and standard they are expected to live up to, then they will do so. She also argues since we communicate a "no excuses" message about drugs and alcohol, we should do the same for sex. ...Here's the problem. The no excuses policy for drugs and alcohol does not work, so why should it work for sex. 1 in 3 adolescents is a daily smoker. Every day 6000 kids try their first cigarette. About half of them become addicted. Teens as young as 15 have suffered, become disfigured and died from oral cancer caused by dip, snuff and chewing tobacco. Would you be able to make a smarter decision about tobacco products when presented with this knowledge or when refused knowledge and told not to do it. Nobody enjoys being told what to do, and at a young rebellious stage of life called adolescents, being told what not to do could be reason enough to do it. Furthermore, sex is not illegal like controlled substances or underage drinking. It is a natural born drive that is pushed into high gear throughout puberty by the elevated levels of hormones produced. The sex drive is a very powerful force that has allowed our evolutionary line to persist ever since life only existed in the ocean. Not only will a teen be faced with peer pressure as with drugs, but teens also have to deal with these sudden overwhelming feelings caused by hormones. This is a subject that can't be declared, "no tolerance." Teens need to know the full truth to explain what's going on inside them, and to make educated responsible decisions about their bodies. Whether or not people think premarital sex is immoral, it will still happen. The drive to have sex can of course be resisted, but it's foolish to believe that every teenager will invariably abstain. Some teens will have sex no matter what we tell them, so why not give them the knowledge they require to make healthy informed decisions about their body. The alternative is to remain in denial because it's more comfortable for us, and to leave our children alone groping in the dark holding a "gun" loaded with deadly STDs aimed at their temple.

Here at Bodyteen we understand that most parents feel uncomfortable talking with their children about sexual issues. We believe, while some sex education programs in schools do provide an invaluable collection of information for teens, there are still some programs that fail to convey information that teens desperately need. If the world was perfect and all sex ed programs did provide this information, then teen pregnancies and STDs simply wouldn't be as common as they are today. If you think your child is too smart to not use protection, remember this...

Nearly half of teens did NOT use condoms in their most recent sexual encounter.

4 million teens will get an STD this year.

Teens simply need more information about sexual risks, responsibilities, forms of protection, and the many facts of life. We'd prefer the information come from a teen's parents. But in the frequent case that it doesn't, we believe it should come from an accurate reputable source. That is what we provide. We provide accurate factual information. We put it in an entertaining, sometimes humorous format to create a casual atmosphere, to stimulate discussion and to encourage learning. We offer a full spectrum of sexually related information. Teens are faced everyday with mature adult decisions and pressures. Thus we believe they should be treated with the respect to which an adult is treated. Instead of telling them what to do or only offering one side of the story, we believe it's better to offer all the information and all sides of the story in order to earn their trust. With this information they are better able to make intelligent, informed, independent decisions. We also ask you to help us protect the ones dear to you through education.


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