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Let's talk about sex

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Pre-teen talking to your child about puberty

New figures show that 1 in 5 girls gets pregnant by the time they are 18.

Research published by the Department of Education questioned thousands of 18-year-olds and found that 18% of them had been pregnant at least once - some had even been pregnant 2 or 3 times.

Of these, just less than half decided to keep their baby and a third had an abortion.

So now your child's a teenager, it's time for a serious talk about sex. Hopefully you've talked to them about sex already and they'll have had sex education lessons at school.

But don't presume that this is enough. As much as you won't want your child to have underage sex, you need to prepare them properly with some straight talking advice. Here's how.

The facts

  • The average age for first having sex is 16.
  • Eight out of 10 teenagers use a condom when having sex for the first time.
  • Less than one in 10 use no contraception.
  • Of those who had sex under 15, four out of five women and two out of five men in their late teens wish they hadn't.

 

20 Talking Points

1. Put yourself in their shoes. Many parents dread talking to their child on the subject, often because they can't bear the idea that their son or daughter may have sex.

Try to remember what it was like for you. Were you horribly ill-prepared for your first sexual encounter or didn't have a clue about how your body worked? Just because you talk to your child about sex, doesn't mean they're going to rush off and have it. Talking openly and giving them accurate information will take away the mystery and confusion of sex and probably help them be more responsible.

2. Just have a chat. If you bring sex into everyday conversation it will be so much easier to talk about. So don't make a big fuss about it and insist on sitting down and having a 'serious talk'. Your teenager may run a mile. Instead, just mention things when they pop into your head.

Talk about relationships on TV soaps, news stories about teenage pregnancy, and use cues to bring up difficult subjects such as sexual abuse or masturbation. It will help your child to feel confident about talking about sex with you.

3. What do they know already? You'll probably be amazed by how much your teenager has already picked up from their mates, from TV and sex education at school. Find out what they do and don't know, fill the gaps and put them right on anything untrue they may have heard.

4. Help them through puberty. This can be a scary and confusing time for your child. Their body will be starting to change into an adult with their sexual organs developing, pubic hair growing and hormones kicking in. With menstruation and growing breasts for girls and wet dreams and voice breaking for boys, it's a lot for both sexes to cope with. But puberty doesn't happen overnight. It's a series of developments that can take years. Explain to your child what's happening to their body and why.

Puberty seems to be happening earlier. The average age is 12 to 14 in girls and 13 to 15 in boys, but girls as young as nine, or younger are now starting their periods. When you and your partner started puberty will be a good indicator of when your child will start theirs.

Continued below...


- Next: Too embarrassed to talk about it? Have your own values? Read more talking points 
- Read one mum's story of her teenage daughter's pregnancy
- Read the facts on STIs

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