The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has created controversy with its confronting portrayal of teenage sexual abuse and suicide. One of the things I found really sad about the series was that the central character’s parents had no idea about what was going on – until it was too late. As a parent myself, it is an understatement to say that this would be devastating. Conversations with our kids are vital and can be intentional and appropriate when it comes to talking about sex, regardless of the age of your child.

Here are 13 reasons why we should be talking to our kids about sex:

  1. Children are exposed at a much earlier age to information about sex via social media, technology, television, movies and video clips.
  2. It’s important that children know your family’s values and opinions. We need to talk to children about sex because we want to be influencing them more than what other sources do.
  3. Starting early conversations means that you and your children are used to chatting about it, and your kids will know that you are always there as a shame-free sounding board.
  4. Your children should know that sex is good and normal and should not be feared.
  5. Sex education provides opportunities for children to develop positive values and attitudes about themselves, healthy behaviours and relationships.
  6. Children are born as sexual human beings. Sexual awareness doesn’t just start when they hit puberty.
  7. Children are not born knowing the correct information about sex.
  8. Children may seek information from other sources and this information, might not be helpful or correct.
  9. Easy access to technology and social media lacking censorship means children are bombarded with information that can be confusing, confronting and embarrassing.
  10. The average age a child first sees pornography is around 10, These conversations must forewarn children of the dangers, and what to do if they see it.
  11. If we don’t have the conversation earlier than puberty, often it will be harder to talk about it.
  12. Conversations around sex are not just a one-off talk, they are ongoing, based on a relationship.
  13. The messages about sex are often negative, unhealthy or untrue, so they need to know the truth, based on your beliefs and values.

As parents, we can make a huge difference, so let’s start talking to our children about sex.

Rowena Thomas