Talking about sex can be awkward and overwhelming, and the prospect of entering the letters S-E-X into a search engine utterly alarming. Yet, the research is clear. Age-appropriate, scientifically-accurate, comprehensive sexuality education:
- Reduces vulnerability to sexual abuse*,
- Increases the likelihood that sexual abuse* (should it occur) is reported,
- Increases the age of first sexual experience,
- Increases the likelihood that a first sexual experience is wanted and enjoyable,
- Decreases the number of lifetime sexual partners,
- Increases rates of condom and contraception use,
- Decreases rates of teen pregnancy, and
- Decreases rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
*Sexual abusers are 100% responsible for sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is NEVER the fault of the survivor.
Though schools and community organizations may introduce and reinforce comprehensive sexuality education concepts, parents and other caregivers have a critical role to play, on a daily basis, in nurturing the authentic-self-expression, self-esteem, self-care, and communication skills that promote loving, equitable relationships and optimal sexual health across the lifespan.
Just as a single lesson in letters cannot achieve literacy, a single “talk” about puberty or pregnancy cannot achieve sexual literacy, let alone the critical-thinking skills required to navigate the modern sea of sexual media-messaging and misinformation. Internet pop-ups, magazine covers, movies, billboards, song lyrics, and social interactions, just to name a few, generously provide numerous opportunities for daily discussions of sexuality. We must seize these opportunities and transform them into thousands of Tiny Talks that will empower each of us to unashamedly embrace who we are and those we love and encourage future generations to do the same.