By Steven Schlozman, MD. In light of the MeToo and Times Up movements, we thought it more important than ever to share the article below on how parents can help teens respectfully navigate the gray areas of sexual and romantic relationships. We try to teach that all the time. Unfortunately, most discussions of this obviously difficult issue stop at the extremes. If that were all you were teaching, the job would be pretty easy. Teens know, just as we know, that sex is rarely straightforward. Given our propensity as adults to crave simplification, we tend, in pedagogic settings, to stop the discussions short. Consider this scene. Two older teens are alone in a dorm room at college.
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But for high school students, the concept of consent can still be a little abstract. They may think they get the idea intellectually, but not really know how to apply it in their own lives. And yes, it may be a little uncomfortable to talk about sex in such detail. How did we fail to communicate that? Be on the record that your child—of any gender or sexual orientation— always has the right to say No to any sexual activity. Sex should happen only when both parties are fully on board. No matter how much a partner wants to do something sexual, the not-ready person has the final say. So give them examples of things they might say, like:. Each person can take care of it themselves later….
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The issue of sexual assault prevention remains controversial, given the stigma attached to teaching young people about sex. For example, while Virginia managed to pass a bill just this year mandating teaching consent to high school students, many were disappointed that the state Senate killed the part of the bill requiring sex education classes to cover sexual assault and domestic abuse. Sullivan has served as a sexual health educator at UVA and in area schools for over 30 years. Unsurprisingly, given the persistent stigmas surrounding sex education, Sullivan finds the current curriculum offered in schools lacking. And, this is NOT intentional; it simply speaks to the lack of training and education for those charged with instruction. The aversion to talking about sex at all tends to mean that educators and parents, both of whom can find the topic uncomfortable, avoid talking about it in real-life terms. Sullivan notes that some kids become sexually active at a younger age than most adults want to acknowledge.
One obstacle for many parents when it comes to teaching their child about healthy sexual development is what to teach, and when. The teenage years are just as important in teaching about healthy sexual development. For older teens ages 16 to 18 , the physical changes of puberty have pretty much stabilized and they have an increased ability to think long term and more abstractly. While their peers still play an important part in their life, the desire to conform is less important for older teens. This is also the age where dating becomes more important and more emotionally connecting; there is also an increased physical desire for sexual interactions and intimacy.