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How to Talk to Your Kids About STDs & Safe Sex

Having “the talk” with your kids is something that some parents never think about and others dread. In America, being open about sex and sexuality is a topic brushed away and glanced over but one in four teens contract an STD every year. Young people account for 50 percent of all newly diagnosed STDs. Besides lowering the STDs diagnosed, preventing pregnancy and cancer-causing HPV are reasons you need to take time to talk to your child about safe sex. 

Having the Safe Sex Talk

Don’t Assume They’ve Learned Enough

Plenty of parents or guardians rely on public schools to educate their children about how the body works and how to have safe sex. In reality, kids learn much more about sex from watching television and movies. School health classes attempt to address the main issues but there is only so much that can be squeezed into class. Television dramas that address issues during high school and college go into more depth about the emotion behind STD and pregnancy diagnoses; and possibly more effective than some health classes.

When and Where to Approach the Subject

A great way to bring up the topic is when the topic comes up in the media, on TV, or in a movie.  This is casual, no pressure, and you will have plenty of chances. Bring it up casually, no pressure to ask if they have “done that.” Ask what your child thinks of what they just saw or what they know about it. Talking in the car is also an excellent time. If you are especially worried, ask your kid if they want to run some errands with you or offer to go on a hike, out shopping, or another activity they enjoy.

How to Talk About STDs and Safe Sex

Talking about safe sex and STDs in a casual way sets a precedent that it’s ok to talk to you (and about sex in general) and that you will be a non-judgmental, supportive resource. Make jokes and keep the tone light. Remind them that there is no pressure to tell you what they have been up to but if they need support with anything you are 100 percent behind them. They may think you’re old but you were once a young, cool kid that you did things. If you feel comfortable, share an experience you had.

Teach Respect and Empower Your Kids

Make sure to teach your children to respect any partner they might have. Focus on teaching your sons to be kind and non-aggressive and your daughters to feel empowered by their sexuality and awareness of those who might try to take advantage.



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