PARENTS

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Parents

A child’s curiosity is a beautiful, hopeful expression of their desire to learn more about the world around them. Curiosity leads to questions. And occasionally, a few of these take parents to some uncomfortable places. “How are babies born?” “What is a condom?” – a child’s questions around sex and sexuality could be challenging but as you will soon find, hardly insurmountable.

Remember when you were children and you were bristling with curiosity and questions that you hoped to find answers for? Imagine if you had a guide who empathized with you and provided you with all the right answers. Imagine how empowered you would have felt. You can be that person for your child.

The list of resources on this page will help you first clear your own doubts and enable you to form your own ideas. It will help you relate to and communicate with your children on matters of body, body parts, sexuality and protection in a free, fearless and positive manner.

Note: For online aspects of child safety & protection, visit our Online Safety Page

CHILDREN NEED TO BE AWARE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THEM & THEIR BODIES AS THEY GROW UP

Still uncomfortable talking to your child about this?

It is not an easy conversation to have. But it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE either. Below is a quick guide with some tips and reading material to help you prepare for this important conversation.

Understanding Child Sexual Abuse (Frequently Asked Questions)

Click through for an easy guide to learn the basics and clarify your myths around Child Sexual Abuse. Who is a child? Any person below the Age of 18 years as per The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act, 2000 The… Know More »

Your Basic Questions Answered

Are Sex & Sexuality the Same Thing?

No.

Sex can refer to both:
– biological characteristics (penis, vagina, x & y chromosomes etc) that define humans as female or male. While these sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, they tend to differentiate humans as males and females. (WHO)
– sexual intercourse which may include intercourse involving penetration of the vagina by the penis or intercourse (such as anal or oral intercourse) that does not involve penetration of the vagina by the penis. (Merriam Webster)

Sexuality is a bigger concept. WHO defines it as “a central aspect of being human throughout life (that) encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction.”

“Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”

Why Should I have the Talk about Sex and Sexuality with My Child?
  • If you won’t do it, somebody else will. And then you have little control over the kind of information your child is receiving. It may be inaccurate, incomplete or even misogynist. This situation can be avoided by you initiating and having the ‘talk’ with your child.
  • Having ‘the talk’ fosters the bond of trust that already exists between you and your child. Unlike other adults like teachers and counsellors, as a parent, you are most likely to be with your child as they enter different phases of their life. Thus you can ensure that ‘the talk’ is an age-appropriate and continuous process. Also, experts are of the opinion that talking the basics of sex and sexuality with your child at a young age can lay the foundation for dealing with more complex issues later in life.
  • Even as we may try to deny it, the fact remains that we live in world where sex is everywhere. It is on the internet and in movies, songs, tv shows, newspapers, & magazines. A growing child is bound to be curious. It is time to acknowledge this and act accordingly.
  • Information is the first step towards safety. By keeping the child informed, you are enabling them to be self-aware and confident. Thereby, empowering your child to protect themselves from harm including abuse, under-age pregnancy, STDs among other risks.
When Should I Start Having ‘the Talk’ with my Child?
  • The basics of personal safety and sex-sexuality education can begin from early childhood. However, it is important to note that the ‘talk’ is not one long lecture session where a child is bombarded by concepts of sex and sexuality. It is continuous process that changes with the age and needs of the child.
  • It is important to ensure that the talk is age-appropriate. For example, for a pre-school child the ‘talk’ may consist of just teaching them the proper name for their body parts including genitals. Talking to them about the details of intercourse would be unnecessary and inappropriate.
  • There is no one right age to start ‘the Talk’. Each child is unique and as parents you are best placed to judge and know a good time to have the conversation. You can base your judgement on the questions your child asks you. Scroll down the page for age-appropriate issues and tips for having ‘the talk’.
Can all this Information be Harmful for my Child?

No. On the contrary, it is the children who have not received appropriate and accurate information about sex and sexuality who are more at risk from sexual abuse, STDs, unplanned pregnancies etc. Imagine when you were children and someone had sat you down and given you the right information about sex and sexuality? Do you think it would have harmed you?

In a culture where sex and related concepts are taboo, empowering the child with information also helps them cope positively with the fears and anxieties associated with bodily and emotional changes.

Also, sex and sexuality is not just about the biology of intercourse. It is about values, attitudes, sexual orientations, dealing with societal pressures, the ability to make good decisions and knowing where the child can reach out to seek help. These are things that will enable the child to take care of themselves, become better individuals and most importantly, will help build a bond of trust between you and your child.

How can I Initiate the ‘Talk’ about Sex and Sexuality with my Child?
  • Before initiating the talk, ensure that you are prepared.
    – You must be informed with accurate and updated information. We highly recommend you purchase and read Tarshi’s amazing Yellow Book – A Parent’s guide to Sexuality Education.
    – You must be confident. Rehearse with a mirror if necessary.
  • Use everyday examples and teachable moments to initiate conversation & explain concepts. The most obvious teachable moment is when your child asks you questions. Other instances that can be used to initiate the talk may be – coming across a condom or sanitary napkin advertisement on tv, when the mother is breastfeeding a sibling, finding out your child has been watching pornography etc. However, you don’t always have to wait for the child to ask questions. If you see fit to have a talk, use a teachable moment to initiate discussions.
  • Space out the conversation. You don’t have to have the entire conversation in one go. Don’t overwhelm yourself and your child.
  • Conversation is a two way street. Do not deliver a lecture. Listen and respond appropriately to what your child has to say.
  • Be candid. If you don’t know the answer to a question the child asks you, tell them that you will find out and get back to them.
  • Most importantly, do not be judgmental – neither in words nor in tone. Do not be angry. Do not assume that just because the child asked a sex-related question that she/he is sexually active.
  • Don’t try too hard to enforce your views on the child. Allow them to form opinions based on the information you have given them.
What should ‘the Talk’ Encompass?
  • Telling them clearly about the biological functions of all the parts of the body, including the genitals.
  • Dealing with changes in child’s body through various development phases – both physical and emotional. Thus, enabling them to develop a positive body image
  • Guidance on how to negotiate love, friendship & relationships including the importance of consent and how to communicate and assert it.
  • How they can keep themselves safe from all kinds of abuse – sexual, emotional & physical.
  • Places and individuals from where they can seek help. 
What Should I Do If I am Uncomfortable With Having ‘the Talk’?
We cannot stress enough the importance of a parent having the ‘talk’ with their child but in case you are extremely uncomfortable, these are a few options you may try:
1. Ask another trusted adult to have a talk.
2. Send your child resources that can help them including books, websites etc. (click here for a list)

Early Childhood (0-9 years): Healthy Sexual Behavior

It is a common myth that children do not have sexual feelings or are not curious about sex and sexuality. In fact, all children are sexual beings. Parents must understand and acknowledge that every child irrespective of their age will show some or the other forms of sexual behavior. It… Know More »

Early Childhood: Answering Questions the Child May Ask

1. Why does my private part look different from my friend’s private part? Identifying body parts by their proper name and function is the foundation of personal safety. Think about why you are more comfortable using a using a euphemism like ‘nunu’ or ‘peepee’ instead of penis. Where does the… Know More »

Early Childhood: Personal Space & Privacy

An important lesson to teach the child at this age is the concept of personal space. You have to tell the child that their body and the air around their body belongs to them. It is their ‘personal space’ and that no one can violate that space without their consent. Tell that… Know More »

Pre-Teens (10-12 years): Healthy Sexual Behaviour

Children at this age get more curious about sex and sexual behaviour. This is expressed through: kissing, hugging and ‘dating’ other children being interested in other people’s body parts and the changes that happen in puberty asking about relationships and sexual behaviour looking for information about sex, this might lead to finding online… Know More »

Pre-Teens: Onset of Puberty

Puberty is the process through which a child’s body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. It involves many physical and emotional changes. It is essential that the children should be told and be aware of these changes before their onset. Pre-Teens are a good time to have the… Know More »

Pre-Teens: Curiosity about Sex

Pre-teens develop a natural curiosity towards sex. This is the age when children start sharing jokes and information related to sex and sexuality. They begin to explore pornography and erotic content. They are also starting to fall in love and develop crushes and infatuations. There may be sexual experimentation. It… Know More »

Pre-Teens: Gender & Identity

Children start coming into their own. They begin to identifying with a particular gender-biology-sexuality matrix. These are a few concepts that you need to get your head around before you can explain it to your child:- Gender identity is all about how you, in your head, think about yourself.  It’s… Know More »

Teenagers (13 – 18 years): Healthy Sexual Behaviour

Sexual behavior becomes more private in teenage. Healthy sexual behavior includes:- kissing, hugging, dating and forming longer-lasting relationships being interested in and asking questions about body parts, relationships and sexuality using sexual language and talking about sex with friends looking for sexual pictures or online porn masturbating in private and experimenting… Know More »

Teenagers: Talking to Children About Being in Healthy Relationships

What is a romantic relationship? Romantic relationships are different than most relationships in that they’re a little like all relationships, all at once. There are aspects of friendship, because you’re with a person you like, and who shares at least some of your interests. It’s also like having a crush. Then there’s… Know More »

Teenagers: How to Talk To Teens

Teenage is a famously difficult age to hold a conversation with your child. The child is now in the grip of puberty, coming on his own and asserting their self and independence. This needs to be dealt with a sensitive manner. This is what the experts have suggested:- Don’t lecture… Know More »

Teenagers: General Safety Tips

As Teenagers are prone to risky behaviour and experimental, here are few ground rules to help keep them safe:- Staying Safe when Going Out: Always make sure you have a safe way home at night Make sure someone always knows where you are going and when you will be back,… Know More »

Identifying Child Sexual Abuse: Recognize the Warning Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

There is a list of warning signs that you need to look out for if you suspect a case of child sexual abuse. Usually, the presence of more than one sign at a time can be indicative of sexual abuse.

Identifying Child Sexual Abuse: Grooming

Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation. Children and young people can be groomed face-to-face or online, by a stranger or by someone they know. Groomers may be male or female and could be of… Know More »

Identifying Child Sexual Abuse: Kinds of Touches

Teaching your children the kinds of touches is one of the basics of prevention of child sexual abuse. It empowers the child to be self-aware, to trust in their own feelings and seek help if they sense they are at the risk of abuse. There are 3 kinds of touches… Know More »

Identifying Child Sexual Abuse: A Few Things You Need to Know About Offenders

Most offenders in Child Sexual Abuse Cases are Previously Known to the Child. A large majority of offenders are fathers, grandfathers, uncles, neighbors etc. Stranger abuse cases are few in comparison. An offendor maybe Young or old Male or Female Indian or a Foriegner Rich or Middle Class or Poor… Know More »

Identifying Child Sexual Abuse: What to do when a Child tells you about Sexual Abuse

When a child chooses to tell you about an incident of sexual abuse, your immediate reaction is key to the child’s safety, well-being and recovery.

Who To Reach Out To If a Child Tells You About Sexual Abuse

The Police: 100 Childline: 1098 Click here for a List of organizations working Across the Country on Child Sexual Abuse To register cases of child sexual abuse online, you may use the POCSO ebox

Helping Your Child Cope with the Trauma of Child Sexual Abuse & Recover

In the aftermath of a sexual abuse, the role of a parent becomes extremely important in paving the way for the child to get back to a normal life. It is crucial that you manage your feelings so you can focus on creating a safe environment for your child which… Know More »