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Sex education helps parents talk to children

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Everything you always wanted to know about sex but were too afraid to ask

Parent to daughter: Are you sexually active?

Daughter to parent: No. I just lie there still on my back.

There was a lot of laughter at a meeting this week to help parents talk to their kids about sexuality.

But there were also a lot of grown-ups squirming where they sat.

After all, the world is quite a different place today than it was a few generations ago.

Today unprotected sex can kill. Our youth are growing up in a time where AIDS and HIV education have increased fears and awareness of sexual activity.

There is also a general understanding that youth are not likely to get married in their teens or early 20s anymore. Its more likely marriage will occur when people are in their 30s.

Added to that is the fact that puberty is occurring in younger and younger kids.

"If you took your child to the doctor because you were concerned abut the early onset of puberty," said sexual health educator and nurse Rae McDonald, "they would have to be six-years-old before any investigation was done today."

Many parents in the audience were incredulous at McDonald’s statement.

That means that parents who teach abstinence are asking their kids to wait up to 20 years before they have sex, she said.

"Is that a realistic expectation," she asked more than 50 parents who turned out for the talk sponsored by Coast Garibaldi Health.

With that in mind McDonald offered the parents some concrete advice about how to talk to their kids about this very important but often difficult subject.

Top of the list was not to wait to talk about puberty because if girls start their menses early and they don’t know anything about it they will be terrified.

"They are going to think something terrible is wrong with them," said McDonald, adding that girls need to know it is perfectly normal and their bodies are doing exactly what they are meant to do.

Boys are no different. Once the sex hormones kick in they will experience erotic dreams and feelings they are not used to. If parents talk to their kids about sexuality it they will be better prepared.

Of course all of this hinges on the fact that parents have to realize that they should be the number one source of information for their kids.

School may be tackling the "facts" of life but home is where kids will learn about the values and issues around sexuality.

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