By JR on Thursday, June 30, 2011
PARENTS are being urged to start talking about sex with their children from the age of two. A new sex education guide by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society says discussing sex is not going to make kids go out and "do it". [Really? The expansion of sex education in British school has coincided with an upsurge in teen pregnancies there]
"Talk soon. Talk often" author Jenny Walsh, of La Trobe University, writes that talking about sex with young people actually had the opposite effect. "We can be so worried about getting it right, perfectly right, that we end up saying nothing at all," Ms Walsh wrote.
The booklet says many parents are still nervous talking about sexuality, including topics such as bodies, babies, love and sexual feelings. It recommends talking to children as young as two about sex and continuing until they are 17. From birth to two years old it is important to start using the right names for body parts, the guide says.
It also covers everything from what you should do if you find your child "playing doctors" to how to approach masturbation.
Family Planning Victoria welcomed the new sex education guide. "We would say that old idea of sitting down and having a talk is absolutely not the way to do it," FPV deputy CEO Elsie L'Huillier said. "There should be a whole process where the issue of sexuality comes up as a natural conversation. It's not a highly stressful 'Let's sit down and talk'."
She said some parents still felt embarrassed to discuss sexuality issues with their children, but it was changing. "There's a reluctance or taboo in some families about being frank about sexuality. It's a big jump for them," she said.
Marie Stopes International Australia CEO Maria Deveson Crabbe said there was no right age to start sex education - it depended on individual families. "I think it is important to recognise that these topics have been stigmatised, but there is no point in burying our heads in the sand." She said sex education was important because poor knowledge of sexual health and decision-making can have long-term impacts.