Parents and children need to be able to discuss sex—but often they avoid these conversations.
As part of our sex education research, we spoke to UK teenagers about why they don’t talk to their parents about sex. Visions of excruciating embarrassment topped the list. We also spoke to parents who didn’t know how or when to have these conversations, and teachers who reported severe difficulties engaging parents in the sex education of their children.
The good news is teenagers do actually want to speak to their parents about sex and there is evidence that doing so can have a positive impact on their sexual decision making.
The UK government has made relationships and sex education compulsory in secondary schools in England from September 2020, and government guidance recommends that schools engage parents in the process. Here are some tips that will help change these conversations from awkward to normal.