Having “The Talk”
A 2019 study of school-aged children noted that 40% of 9-year-olds and 70% of 12-year-olds are trying to educate and prepare themselves for sexual activity. The reality is, children know about, think about, talk about, and experiment with sex. The question I have for parents is, “If you’re not having these conversations with your children, then who is?”
Studies show that the majority of parents don’t begin talking to their children about sex until adolescence, when children begin mentioning things like dating, girls, boys, kissing, holding hands, etc. At this point, these initial conversations tend to be about safety, protection, pregnancy, puberty, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual assault. These are all critical topics; however, parental conversations don’t often include: consent, pleasure, identity questions, sexual attraction, masturbation, and pornography. Our children know all of these topics. We aren’t protecting them by avoiding them.
Let’s you and I have the talk before the talk. Let’s discuss what is developmentally appropriate, how not to create shame inadvertently, and how to create a safe space where they can always come back to you to share questions, experiences, concerns, and feelings. Experts agree that conversations with your child about sex should begin early and happen often.
SOME THINGS YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW YOU HAD TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT
Some impulsive yet normalized & developmentally appropriate sexual behaviors can land your child in legal trouble, on probation, or labeled as a sex offender. Almost a third of registered offenders were convicted of crimes they were convicted of as children, some as young as eight years old. A small sampling of things that can lead to a child getting charged with sexually related crimes includes: “butt-grabbing” in school, taking naked pictures and sending them via text, viewing pornography, or having oral/penetrative sex with someone three years younger. These behaviors can translate to criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual penetration, criminal contact of a minor, and manufacturing/distribution/possession of child pornography.
This, and information like it, is important for parents to know as they begin talking to their children about sex. Contact me for support. We can begin to develop plans and role-play how to begin talking to your child, or we can do it together.