Child & Adolescent Development: Puberty
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Information about Reproduction is Fundamental

Angela Oswalt Morelli , MSW, edited by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Finally, we encourage parents to discriminate between information that children absolutely must learn about puberty, and information which is nice for them to know but which is also not fundamental or absolutely necessary for their safety and well being. In our view, children absolutely must learn the mechanics of reproduction - how babies are made - so that they understand exactly what behaviors they need to avoid if they do not wish to make a baby. They should also learn about sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent those diseases. In our view, children should also be educated about methods for preventing pregnancy and/or for preventing sexually transmitted illness via methods other than abstinence, including the proper use of birth control (condoms, birth control pills and similar methods). However, we know not all parents agree with us on this last part.

sex education on blackboardIn our view, children need to learn about reproduction, sexually transmitted disease and birth control before they hit puberty and before their friends, or the media, provide them with false or misleading information.

While presenting this information, parents should ask their children to talk about what they already "know" about reproduction and birth control. Even fairly young children may have started to think about these mysteries, and have already come up with conclusions and beliefs on the subject which will need to be corrected. For instance, some children may believe that drinking a certain brand of soda will prevent pregnancy, or that certain sexual positions cannot result in pregnancy. Other youth may believe that holding hands can cause pregnancy. Certainly talking about sex with children will be an uncomfortable topic for some parents, but no matter the discomfort, children fundamentally need to understand how their bodies work or they will be vulnerable to being fooled or misled with potentially difficult consequences.

Some parents are uncomfortable talking about how sex and reproduction work with their children because they think by doing so they will give their children "ideas", somehow pervert their children's innocence, or increase their desire to explore. The reality is that more and more youth are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages. It is rather unlikely, in our view that parents will introduce any ideas to children that they are not already thinking about, or have heard mentioned by peers or older children. By providing accurate information about both the promises and dangers associated with sexuality, parents can help their children to think more accurately about sex, which may motivate them to be more rather than less careful in their exploration.

 




Contact Information

Sarah Dinklage, LICSW
Executive Director

sdinklage@risas.org

Charles Cudworth, MA
Director, SAS

ccudworth@risas.org

Leigh Reposa, MSW, LICSW
Program Manager
lreposa@risas.org

Colleen Judge, LMHC                  Manager, SAS
cjudge@risas.org 

Kathleen Sullivan
Manager, Community Prevention
ksullivan@risas.org


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