Message to parents about sexual health education
Sexuality education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values about identity, relationships, and intimacy. It encompasses sexual development, reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy, body image, and gender roles.
Why sexuality education is important
- so youth will approach puberty with excitement rather than dread.
- so youth will appreciate their bodies and not engage in dangerous weight-management and cosmetic regimes.
- so youth will be able to make and keep friends and communicate their needs and boundaries assertively.
- so those who have been sexually abused will feel less alone, less to blame, and more inclined to report their abuse.
- so youth will treat one another respectfully, regardless of their genders, sexual orientations, or any other personal characteristics, in class, between classes or on the playground, and when they date one another.
- so youth will know how to reduce their risks of STDs (including HIV), unintended pregnancy, birth defects, infertility, dysfunction and other sexuality-related difficulties.
- so youth will recognize the symptoms and be inclined to seek health care for these kinds of difficulties.
- so youth will perform self breast- and testicular exams and seek routine preventive health care.
- so youth will know where to find accurate information about sexual health as they grow and change throughout their lives.
Your role as parents
Parents can be one of the best educators on sexuality education. Schools provide background, parents provide values. Studies show that kids who feel they can talk with their parents about sex -- because their moms and dads speak openly and listen carefully to them -- are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior as teens than kids who do not feel they can talk with their parents about the subject.
How to communicate your values
The best way to transmit your values to your children is to model them AND to talk about them. Clearly stating you beliefs but respecting the existence of other beliefs helps kids to clarify and integrate their own beliefs.
- Be clear about your own values.
- Help children identify the difference between fact, fallacy, value.
- Help children think critically and identify a range of beliefs.
- Answer, Sex Ed Honestly, Rutgers University:
- GLBT Resources for Children: A Bibliography, American Library Association
- Family videos (free online film for families)
- Gender Spectrum
- Lead with Love (free online film for families and resources)
- Safe Schools Coalition
- Parents as Advocates for Comprehensive Sex Ed in Schools
- Sexuality Education: Q & A
- State Policies on Sex Education in Schools
- What's going on in my state with sex education and abstinence-only programs?
- Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet
- Child sexual abuse: What parents should know
For adults who have a child or children who have been victims of sexual assault:
- Especially for Parents (English and Spanish)
- Especially for Parents of Adolescents (English and Spanish)
- Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
- Tips for Child Sex Abuse Prevention