“[I want] better education regarding sex for both boys and girls [and] information about pornography, and the way it influences harmful sexual practices.”
These are the words of a 15-year-old Australian girl in 2016. She was one of 600 young Australian women and girls aged 15-19 who participated in the survey about the sexual culture that teens face today. The survey results are staggering; Girls report that online sexual bullying is rampant, that requests of nude photos from boyfriends is the norm, and that they are obliged to get sex acts “out of the way” first before boyfriends will do normal date activities with them like watching a movie.
The problem, of course, is the readily available and very free Internet pornography that all of our teenage boys now have at their fingertips. Fight the New Drug says it well: “Pornography is molding and conditioning the sexual behaviors and attitudes of boys, and girls are being left without the resources to deal with these porn-saturated boys.”
It is true that we do have to provide our daughters with resources and what to say to these boys who expect them to do and enjoy things that they’ve seen an Internet porn. But while we do that, we should also do everything we can to keep our sons from seeing, pursuing, and indulging in it.
Keisha Howard, life coach and former middle school guidance counselor describes more of what young American girls are dealing with today. “I can recall a time when a young 13-year-old girl asked me ‘Is sex really like what it looks like in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie?’ Yes, that happened. This young lady received a few video clips from the movie via text messages that had been circulating around her school. She asked me this question because she was considering losing her virginity, and she wanted to know if she should expect to be whipped and tied up when she has sex for the first time.”
Parents: it is up to us to TELL our daughters and SHOW them (in a PG way, ha ha) what healthy sexual relationships look like. I know that NO ONE wants to talk to their twelve-year-old daughters. Howard is graciously providing parents with five key points to use when you talk to your teens about sex.
1. Have short talks, not marathons:
Most teens are really nervous when it comes to talking about sex with their parents. Weren’t you? Teens typically want to avoid this conversation at all cost. So, since it’s already an uncomfortable topic, don’t make it worse by belaboring the talk and making it last longer than it should. Try inserting short talks, with teachable moments, here and there. This will lessen the “sex talk” blow, and it could possibly prevent your teen from rolling their eyes during the talk.
2. Role play pressure situations:
Myth: My teen won’t be in a pressure situation regarding sex.
Fact: Your teen will likely be pressured to either have sex, watch sex on TV or online, or send/receive a sexual message, and if it doesn’t happen to your teen, it’s going to happen to their friends, who will talk to your teen about it; so it’s best to make sure that your teen is prepared when those pressure situations arise. Role play with your son or daughter. Act out different situations and give your teen suggestions and strategies on how to react to that situation. Try role playing the following:
- What do you do when someone asks you to send them a sext?
- What do you do when you receive a sext?
- What do you do when you arrive at a party and the parents are not at home?
3. Talk about consequences:
Don’t assume that your teen knows about safe sex, STIs, and how to prevent teen pregnancy. Nowadays, sex education is rarely taught in public schools, and if it is taught, it’s a brief topic in class. Unfortunately, some teens believe that oral sex is not sex, and that if they only engage in oral sex, they can still remain a virgin and not suffer any of the negative consequences that having sex can bring. This is not true. STIs can still be transmitted during oral sex… and oral sex IS sex. When talking with your teen, be sure to dispel any myths that they might have about what is considered sex and what isn’t, and make sure that they know the real deal. Think about it: Wouldn’t you rather them hear the real facts about sex from you, rather than from that cute boy or girl trying to persuade them?
4. Teach them to guard their reputation.
Tell your teen that despite what is constantly being displayed on TV, on social media, and in music, everyone is NOT doing it. Encourage your teen to not feel pressured by the sexual images and messages that the see and hear throughout the day. Instead, encourage them to focus on their own character, morals and values. When having conversations with your teen about sex, also discuss their thoughts, belief systems and actions, and how those actions represent them. Let them know that it’s time to start thinking about how they want to show up in the world, and how they want to be perceived. Then, discuss potential actions such as posting provocative pictures and anonymously participating in racy conversations on a social media site, while challenging the teen to think about what those actions say about their character and values.
5. Don’t just talk about it, be about it.
Take action. Be proactive. If you don’t want your teen to be able to access pornographic sites online, install software that blocks these sites from your home. If you don’t want your teen to access certain social media sites, have conversations with them and ban them from those sites. If they still continue to visit them, then contact your cellular provider to block certain sites and apps from your teen’s phone. Also, initiate a technology curfew, meaning that all electronics must be shut down at a certain time every night, and I strongly suggest that parents have their teens store the electronics on the charger in the parent’s room to take away the temptation to be online all night. Finally, be sure to conduct frequent phone checks on your teen’s phone to monitor the messages that they are receiving, sending, and viewing.
The bottom line: it is on US to prepare our kids (especially girls, let’s be honest. They’re the ones being asked to send nudey pics) for the unique sexual pressure they will certainly face as young teens in the digital age. Shying away from these conversations is pretty much the WORST thing we can do for our children.
You can do hard things, Parents. And you MUST do this one.