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Are We Teaching Our Children About Healthy Sexuality?

A large part of sexual health is healthy sexuality (they even sound the same!) but this doesn’t seem to be something we openly discuss. Sure, the media love showing you sexualised images of women (and some men) but does that imply that we’re a nation that knows about sexual wellness? Healthy sexuality is not something you’re born knowing, you have to learn it. Why? Because healthy sexuality is the basis of preventing sexual violence and making your community safer.

Let’s define what we mean by healthy sexuality: having the knowledge and power to express sexuality in ways that enrich your life. This means guarding your wellbeing against violence by making informed choices, and having consensual and respectful. It all comes down to values and how we interact with one another. This begins with communication, which means going beyond “no means no” and listing bad behaviours. When you teach your kids about healthy eating, you don’t just list bad foods – you also show them how to eat in a healthy way. The same goes for healthy sexuality: talk about what it means to respect boundaries and to communicate with a partner. Communication is key in all relationships.

When you’re talking about healthy sexuality, you can’t avoid discussing respect. The main focus of bullying and sexual harassment in schools is gender norms; our culture’s “rules” about how men and women are supposed to behave. Students who don’t fit the norm of their gender are often targeted, and research has shown that there’s a link between perpetrating gender-based bullying and sexual harassment and perpetrating sexual violence in later life. This means that starting early, and teaching your children about respecting the right to gender expression, will make your child’s school and community safer in the long-run.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of knowledge. If you equip your children with the knowledge and skills of healthy sexuality, they are more likely to be an engaged bystander. Being comfortable in addressing issues of sex, consent, and respect, makes you feel more comfortable intervening in a situation that may be sexually unsafe for someone else. You’re not only helping your child’s sexual wellness, but countless others’ also.

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This entry was posted on June 22, 2013 by and tagged , , .
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