Healthy Sexuality

What is healthy sexuality and why do we want to talk about it?

Healthy sexuality is all about self-awareness, education about reproductive health, and positive, open communication. One important key to healthy sexuality is consent. Another is a willingness to communicate openly and honestly. It's important to add compromise, boundaries, and respect to that mix too!

Sexual assault inherently lacks consent. There's no communication involved, or it's one-sided on the part of the rapist. The perpetrator takes what they want without consideration of the victim's feelings or wishes. The perpetrator ignores the victim's boundaries and disrespects them as a person with rights to their own bodily autonomy.

This is why teaching kids, young adults, and even adults about healthy sexuality is so important. We need everyone to know that they deserve their boundaries to be respected. We need everyone to know they have a right to say no and have their wishes be heard.

Talking to kids about healthy sexuality.

Ah yes. The 'Talk'. Does the thought of it send
chills down your spine? It shouldn't! For one,
don't think of it as a one-and-done thing. Think
of it as an ongoing conversation you'll have with
your kids over the course of their childhood.

It's okay. Breathe. We're in this together.

First, remember that even if someone never has sex, they will still have reproductive organs to care for. They need to know this information so they can comfortably talk with their doctor about any issues that arise. And, if they're comfortable talking about their reproductive care, they're more likely to be comfortable asserting their boundaries in relationships!

Top five reasons to talk to your kid about healthy sexuality!

  • It’s lifesaving information.

    • It makes it easier for kids to talk about medical problems.

    • It helps kids learn about the potential dangers around sex (STIs, unwanted pregnancy, sexual misconduct)

    • It can protect them from sexual predation.

      • Sexual predators often prey on children who don’t know anything about their bodies or healthy sexuality.

      • Shame and embarrassment are tools predators use to keep kids silent.

  • Kids deserve to know about their own bodies and they deserve to have the correct names for all of their body parts.

    • Healthy sexuality promotes:

      • Positive body image

      • Self-confidence

      • Parent-child communication

      • Teaches ownership over their bodies

      • If kids grow up with a deeper understanding of autonomy and consent, they will likely speak up when they feel that consent has been violated. They may be less likely to violate someone else.

  • Talking about healthy sexuality lets you impart your values and beliefs to your children.

    • Talking about healthy sexuality in a positive way helps us impart our values and beliefs about healthy sexuality to our kids, too.

    • Talking about healthy sexuality in a positive way lets kids know what you think about it and what standards of behavior are all right in your family.

  • Talking about healthy sexuality shows your child/ren that their bodies aren’t shameful and that sex isn’t shameful.

    • Won’t teaching kids that sex isn’t shameful encourage them to have sex?

      • Teaching that sex isn’t shameful promotes talking about sex.

      • Talking about sex gives kids practice.

      • Kids who have practice talking about sex are more likely to be able to talk about sex with potential partners and are better able to say no if they want to.

      • Studies show that kids who have good, respectful information about sex put off having sex until they are older.

      • We want them to learn they can enjoy sexual feelings without acting on them.

      • We want them to express love and intimacy in appropriate ways.

      • We want them, when they are mature enough, to talk with a partner about sexual activity before it occurs, including sexual limits, contraceptive and condom use, and the meaning of the relationship and of relationships in general.

    • Not talking about healthy sexuality can teach kids that their bodies are shameful and not to be talked about.

      • Shame and embarrassment lead to secrets.

      • We want kids to appreciate their own bodies.

  • Talking about healthy sexuality is body science.

    • They may never have sex, but they will always have bodies to care for.

    • Sexual health is no different than nutritional health.

    • We want them to practice healthy prevention, such as regular checkups and breast or testicular self-exams.

    • Imagine being embarrassed to talk about pain in your stomach.

    • Imagine being embarrassed to talk about not being able to see or hear.

(If you want to read more great information about talking to your kids about healthy sexuality, pick up Meg Hickling's book, The New Speaking of Sex.)

What do kids need to know and when do they need to know it?

Children Pre-K to Grade Three

  • Names for genitals: penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus, ovaries.

  • The scientific words: urine, stool, bladder, urethra.

  • Whom they can ask questions of (ideally, every adult in the child’s family.)

  • That reproduction happens when a man’s sperm joins a woman’s ovum through sexual intercourse.

  • That a baby grows in the uterus and is born through the vagina.

  • What you (the parent/caregiver/guardian) think about healthy sexuality.

  • The difference between the digestive and reproductive systems.

  • Everything about menstrual periods and nocturnal emissions as clean and healthy processes.

  • Basic information about body changes at puberty.

  • Boundaries (Age appropriate: “Don’t touch your friend’s genitals and don’t expose your genitals in public.” Give explanations why.)

  • Consent (Age appropriate: “Ask before you give your friend a hug.” Give explanations why.)

  • Information about what to expect when they visit a doctor.

Children Grades Four to Seven

  • All of the previous information.

  • Boundaries (Age appropriate: “Talking about sex or your genitals can make other people feel uncomfortable.” Give explanations why.)

  • Consent (Age appropriate: “If your friend tells you to stop, you need to respect them and stop.” Give explanations why.)

  • What healthy relationships are and what they look like.

  • All about body changes at puberty.

  • Basic information about STIs and pregnancy.

  • How to question and critique the media in regards to the idealized body shapes and sizes.

  • How sexuality is exaggerated in pornography and how participants are exploited.

  • Teenagers don’t have to be sexually active.

  • Your beliefs and expectations as a parent/caregiver/guardian.

Adolescents in Grades Seven to Twelve

  • All of the above information.

  • Information about the correct use of contraceptives and their potential failure.

  • Information about emergency contraception.

  • Detailed information about STIs and safer sex.

  • Knowledge about the connection between alcohol, drugs, and adolescent decision-making and sexual activity.

  • Difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

  • Practice with negation skills, refusal skills, and relationship skills like how to break off a relationship.

Here's another website with great information! 

You might be thinking, "Hey, this sounds like the
opposite of sexual assault!" and you'd be right.

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