52% Of Young People Say They Don’t Get The Sex Talk They Need At Home Or At School

70% of parents never mention enjoyment or pleasure when they talk to their kids about sex.

52% Of Young People Say They Don't Get The Sex Talk They Need At Home Or At School

by Rebecca Reid |
Updated on

According to research by the Sex Education Forum, 52% of parents are, for want of a better word, cocking up their attempts at giving their children ‘the talk’.

‘The Talk’ as it is euphemistically dubbed, is often portrayed as one of the most daunting aspects of parenthood. The expectation seems to be that everyone involved will be pained and embarrassed by the entire experience, which will focus on how to not get pregnant or catch an infection. Which is probably why young people are getting such a raw deal in terms of sex ed.

Perhaps there was a time – when we had fewer sexual partners, no apps to find casual hook-ups and looking at porn meant buying a magazine from a seedy newsagents – when a stumbling chat about condoms and and taking your weight on your elbows was enough.

But this is 2019, and giving your children a proper, efficient, well researched and stigma-free sex talk is one of the most important ways that you can equip your offspring for life.

The research comes from the Sex Education Forum, who asked 16- and 17-year-olds to rate different aspects of the sex and relationship education they received.

Only half of the respondents (52%) said they were taught the medically correct names for genitalia, and only just over half (53%) said that they got the information they needed about STIs.

And, most worryingly, only 38% said their parents taught them about pornography, while just 30% were told about sexual pleasure. Which means that young people are getting an entire sex education without being told that they can, and should, enjoy sex.

By the age of 13, 51% of children have already seen porn, and by the age of 15 it’s 66%. So while it’s probably tempting to hope your child will just miss the whole thing, the chances are that if you don’t educate them about sex, porn will. The increased prevelance of ‘rough sex’ is often attributed to porn. And it’s certainly true that when young people watch porn it’s not just a dimly lit missionary position experience; it’s probably fish hooking, spitting, choking, slapping and anal sex. Porn teaches young people the rudimentary mechanics of sex, but none of the far more important parts - the negotiation, the consent, the importance of both parties feeling comfortable and safe. If no one teaches young people about those things, we can hardly be surprised if they don’t magically work it out.

In a perfect world, your kids’ school would provide a service that covered everything important around consent, porn, sexual safety and how to have sex in a positive way. But there are plenty of schools all over the UK that do not provide sex education for faith reasons, and even those that do provide it are not obliged to use an outside speaker who is qualified and regulated. So the quality of sex talk that is being given to your kids might be very high. Or they might be splitting the classes into genders, taking them into separate classrooms, showing them a slideshow of infected genitalia and then sending them on their way.

No one likes talking to their parents about sex - that’s normal. But unfortunately the time when you could get away with leaving a book on your child’s bed and hoping for the best has passed. Parents need to put their own discomfort aside and put on a brave face, because your children are almost certainly going to see porn, talk about sex, and eventually have sex. The only thing that you have control over is how well prepared and armed they are when that happens.

The NSPCC suggests that you start talking about sex and consent from the youngest age possible, saying: ‘Talking to your child about sex while they’re still in primary school will help you to work out their level of understanding and encourage them to ask questions. Don’t lecture your child but talk together and listen.'

They also suggest having short, informal chats ‘now and again’, and using everyday situations to strike up the conversation, such as seeing a pregnant woman or discussing stories in the media.

The Church of England has released a (surprisingly modern) charter for personal education in schools. Bishop of Ely, Stephen Conway, who also heads up education for the C of E said: ‘While delivery of these topics has not been without contention in recent months, children are increasingly at risk of exposure to pornography and other damaging online and real-world interactions, and we must commit to teaching this vital part of the curriculum in a way which affords dignity and shows respect to all.’

[There are great resources on the NHS and NSPCC websites which can guide you through how to handle these sensitive, but essential, topics.](https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/talking-about-difficult-topicst-topics)

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