Foster care
Carer guide
What teenagers need to know about sex

What teenagers need to know about sex

These are some of the things teenagers need to know about sex

  • Their emotions and relationships are just as important as the physical acts
  • What's involved in a relationship before making any decisions about sex
  • Their values and beliefs about sex
  • To feel good about their sexuality and themselves
  • Not to feel afraid, ashamed or guilty about sex
  • Understand their body, how it works and how pregnancy and sexual diseases occur
  • Know about birth control choices
  • Understand and know what "safe sex" practices are
  • Feel confident to say "no"
  • The law and what it says about sexual relationships
  • The laws about discrimination based on sex and gender
  • When and where to go for advice
  • What their rights are
  • They don't have to engage in sexual activity if they don't want to
  • Understand sexual consent

Strategies for discussing sex

Give information

A common fear about giving teenagers information about sex is that it will send the message that sex is okay. Good information is not dangerous. Many teenagers experiment in their early teenage years and they need accurate information before they do so.

Adults often try to be helpful but skirt around what they are really trying to say. For example, by saying, “make sure you protect yourself”, rather than explaining what protection means.

Focus on the relationship

A lot of focus is often spent on the facts about sex with children at the expense of the emotional side of sex. This is the most important part of what takes place in a relationship between two people. It can be beneficial to talk with the young person about how they feel emotionally about someone they are interested in.

Have clear expectations

Know what the law says about when it is illegal to have sex, but remember that whilst there are rules forbidding underage sex, it doesn’t mean young people will obey these.

Be clear about what is acceptable or not acceptable in your home. For example, who is allowed to sleep over at night, and whether boyfriends or girlfriends can spend time alone together in the house or in bedroom.

If you allow the young person in your care access to computers, ensure you have appropriate filters for pornography. Have clear expectations about appropriate internet and mobile phone use. Remember that many children will access pornography online either on their own devices or with their peers. It is important to discuss with children what pornography is and why it is harmful.

You can find more information by visiting these websites.

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