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Parents urged to talk soon, talk often

Talk soon. Talk often. is the name and objective of the new sex education book for parents released by the Western Australia Health Department and written by Jenny Walsh from La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS).

parent and child‘Parents might be relieved to know that helping their child towards a happy, healthy sexuality does not come from ‘one big talk’ that has to be perfectly scripted. Nor does talking with children about sexuality make them go out and do ‘it’. In fact, talking about sex with young people has the opposite effect,’ says Ms Walsh

‘It’s not one big talk, but lots of little conversations,’ she adds.

The book was written with a team of WA experts providing advice, and encourages parents to begin the conversation at home with children as young as two and continue talking about sexuality right up to 17 years-old. Research has shown that teenagers who have talked with their parents about sexual matters become sexually active later than those who haven’t, says Ms Walsh.

In 2008, ARCSHS was approached by WA to carry out research that would inform advice written for parents. Consultations were held with the parents of primary and secondary aged school children in metropolitan and regional Western Australia. Parents were asked about the ways they currently approach educating their children about sex, reproduction, sexuality and relationships and the kind of support needed to assist them to more effectively communicate with their children about these topics.

Talk soon. Talk often. is based on those discussions and provides a basis for conversations with children about matters that are regarded as taboo. The literature supports parents with talking points that address the typical needs of children in different age groups.

‘Despite living through a couple of sexual revolutions, many parents are still nervous about the topic. Many of us grew up in a time when talking about sex (within the family) wasn’t done. So we feel we don’t have a model to copy, or at least one that we would be happy to repeat.

‘This is especially true for men. At least girls got some information about periods and babies (from Mum) but boys (now men) often missed out on any sort of parent talk about their bodies, sex and relationships.

‘One thing we did get from the sexual revolution—or from watching daytime talk shows— is a fear about what we adults might do to a child’s sexuality and that’s what worries us. We can be so worried about getting it right, perfectly right, that we end up saying nothing at all,’ says Ms Walsh.

Talk soon. Talk often. is available for download: http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/2/1276/2/parentcaregiver.pm

For any media enquiries please contact:

Meghan Lodwick

Media & Communications Officer 
T: 03 9479 5353 M: 0148 495 941 E: M.Lodwick@latrobe.edu.au

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