Information

This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.

Sexual Health

Some parents and caregivers are comfortable discussing sexual health matters with their kids but for others it can be a daunting task. There may be some anxiety around giving too much information, or feeling embarrassed about not knowing the answers to difficult questions.

Cast your mind back to when you were a teenager, when you first learnt about sex; it was probably embarrassing and awkward, and you probably got limited information or, worse still, misinformation.

So on reflection, despite our best intentions, we might be a hindrance to young people adopting healthy sexual behaviours if we avoid educating and preparing them for the time when they choose to become sexually active.

Talking about sex is recognised as an important tool in overcoming some of the common issues that confront young people today, issues like unplanned pregnancy and regrettable decisions about sex. Research shows that a young person who has a positive adult mentor is less likely to engage in unsafe sexual practices than peers who didn’t have an adult mentor.

Research tells us that:

  • Educating young people about sex increases the chances that they will engage in safe sex practices, like using condoms and contraceptives, and that they are able to make decisions they feel comfortable with, when the time comes.
  • Young people who are educated about sex are not more inclined to start having sexual relationships earlier; in fact it actually helps to delay them.
  • Adult-child communication about sex can decrease sexual risk behaviours.
  • Denying access to contraceptives, condoms or information will not prevent a young person becoming sexually active; rather it is more likely to increase the chances of unprotected sex, sexually transmitted infections, unplanned pregnancies and poor choices.

Comprehensive sexuality education includes discussions about human development, personal relationships, decision making, contraception, pregnancy, STI’s and society and culture.

Strategies

Parents/Carers

  • Have some reading material prepared to give them so they can go away and read in private.
  • Respect privacy and confidentiality.
  • Use a newspaper article or television show to initiate discussion.
  • Listen respectfully to ideas and concerns.
  • Be non-judgmental regardless of age, sexual preference and sexual behaviours. Being judgmental risks losing a young person’s trust and loss of trust often leads to not seeking help or support when it’s needed in the future.
  • Use simple straightforward language.
  • Encourage questions.
  • Don’t expect to know all the answers. It’s okay to say you don’t know something and refer to books and specialists.
  • Don’t lecture.
  • Discuss options about contraception.

Remember that an adolescent’s decisions about sex are greatly influenced by their level of self-esteem. A positive relationship with a young person builds their sense of self-worth and contributes to the likelihood of healthy decision-making.

Adolescents

  • When you visit the doctor discuss any concerns you have about confidentiality.
  • If your visit the GP didn’t meet your needs, don’t give up. Keep looking around till you find a doctor you are comfortable with.
  • Consider applying for your own Medicare card.
  • Call one of the listed agencies for phone advice if you have any concerns.

 

Useful Websites & Resources

Online resource library for schools, a partnership between Ansell and The Australian Research Centre In Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, Melbourne: