The state of sex education these days is scary. Mostly because it hasn't changed all that much since I was in school. And when I was in school, sex education was laughable. I vividly remember watching a sex education video with my Girl Scout troop in the seventh grade that would appall any parent hoping to educate their child about sexuality. The intro featured Salt 'n Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex," and the rest of the video showcased all the ways kids are learning about sex all wrong.
The fact of the matter is, unless you're talking about sex to your kids directly, your kids are probably learning about sex in all the wrong ways. To ensure that your kids are learning about sex in a way that encourages them to ask questions, be free of shame, and make safe decisions, you should start teaching your kids about sex at an early age. Helping your children understand what they want to know about sex may be uncomfortable at first, but it will help your children become more comfortable with the subject. And at the end of the day, wouldn't you rather have your child asking you questions about sex instead of the internet?
1. They're Not Learning From You
When you don't take sex education into your own hands, you're automatically leaving your child's education in the hands of others. According to an ABC News poll, 90 percent of parents say they've spoke to teens about sex — and yet, only half of their teens agree. Somehow, there's a disconnect in what parents think they're teaching their kids, and what's actually being taught. And when your kids aren't learning from you, they're learning from someone else.
2. They're Learning From Their Friends
Do you remember what it's like being a kid? It's brutal. Especially when it comes to being sexually active and knowing about sex. When you don't educate your child firsthand, you're leaving their education up to themselves. And learning from other teenagers can be seriously dangerous. Rumor mills start at a young age and only get worse as kids grow older. Do your children a favor and provide an environment where they feel comfortable talking to you about sex.
3. They're Learning From The Internet
Regardless of how many parental controls you have set on the internet, their telephones, and every other technological device in the house — your kids will find a way around it in order to get the information they need. You know what a ridiculous place the internet can be. Talk to them before they turn to Google.
4. They're Learning Abstinence Only
If you leave your child to learn sex education from their schooling alone? Chances are high that they're going to miss out on some pretty major stuff. Mississippi and Massachusetts are among the states that require sex education to promote abstinence. Learn more about what your state legislature says about sex education so that you can help give your child the sex education they deserve.
5. They're Learning Too Late
Most curriculums don't really dive into sex education until your children are well into their teen years. The problem with that? According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States almost 20 percent of teens have engaged in oral sex by the time they're 16, and more than 20 percent have engaged in sexual intercourse. It's not enough to start teaching children sex education when they're already in the throes of it. Kids need to be taught at earlier ages about sex, and how to engage in it safely.
6. They're Not Learning About Consent
One of the most important facets of sex education is consent, and sadly, it's just not being taught. According to World Mag, in 2015, California became the first state to require sexual consent lessons to be taught in high school. The first state. Not to mention the problem our society has with rape culture. Consent needs to be taught, and needs to be valued.
7. They're Not Learning About Birth Control
If your kids aren't aware of the birth control that's out there, how are they supposed to know how to best protect themselves? Beyond condoms, the options of birth control grow every year. From shots, to patches, to implants — teach your children (not just your daughters) about birth control so that they're better informed when it comes to making decisions, and more apt to make educated decisions when it comes time for them to engage in sexual intercourse.
8. They're Not Learning The Importance Of Condoms
Depending on your state, your child may not even be allowed to learn how to use condoms. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the state of Tennessee prohibits the instruction and distribution of materials that promote "gateway sexual activity." Yep. That means condoms.
9. They're Taught To Be Ashamed
So often, kids are taught to call their private parts by pet names — which, in a roundabout way, teaches them to be ashamed of their sexuality. When teaching your children, call a spade a spade. Penis, vagina, they're not dirty words. They're body parts. Empower your children's education by using the proper terminology for body parts, and it'll take your children a long way in the end.