Love them enough to talk about it
Almost all 15 year olds today are HIV negative. You can help your child stay negative by talking with them about waiting 'til they're older to have sex; dealing with peer pressure; protecting themselves when they do have sexual relationships; and keeping them within the protective environment of school as school-leaving is a time of particular risk for young people. Get the conversation started...
1. Open, early and frank discussion of sex and sexuality is key to reducing HIV infection in South Africa.
Evidence from the World Health Organization and other international reviews of sex education programmes show unequivocally that open discussion about sex and sexuality is critical in reducing the incidence of HIV infection, sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancy. Talking enables young people to engage actively with sexual issues in order to get information, and to personalise the risks.
These studies also unambiguously dispel the notions that talking with children about sex causes them to initiate sex earlier or increases promiscuity. The opposite is true: failing to talk with your children about physical relationships, sex and sexuality places children at greater risk of HIV infection or teenage pregnancy.
2. Most children want to hear about sex from their parents
loveLife's research has consistently found that young people first want to hear about sex from their parents, and want a continuing conversation with them about issues of life, relationships, sex and sexuality.
Over three quarters of young people believe that open communication reduces the risk of HIV/Aids, reduces the risk of teen pregnancy (78.6%), and encourages adolescents to be more responsible. However, nearly two thirds of young South Africans (63.3%) say they receive no information whatsoever about sex from their fathers. Half (48.7%) say they receive no (34.6%) or very little (14.1%) information from their mothers.
How to speak with your teen
Talking & Listening: Parents & Teens Together
Being a parent isn't easy. But it can be made easier through learning to talk with your teenager about growing up. As teenagers today are faced with so many tough choices, it is important that they understand the consequences of their actions and decisions.
You can teach your teenager to accept responsibility for their decisions by communicating with them. It is never too early to talk with your children about difficult issues like sex, drugs and violence. And it is never too late to start.
When children are little, they look to their parents for all their needs; they expect them to have the answers for all their questions. When children become teenagers they start to look for their own answers. If they do not find guidance at home, teenagers may start to look to other people for advice and information. As parents you can make sure that the information your teenager receives is correct. But if you don't speak with your teenager, somebody else will.
Surveys & publications
The 2nd South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey 2008
In 2010, The Medical Research Council released the 2nd South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey 2008 – a nationally representative survey among 10 270 secondary school learners in Grades 8 through 11. The survey reports on the prevalence of behaviours that place youth at risk for disease and ill health.
The good news is that the 2008 survey shows significant reductions in risky sexual behaviour. Fewer school learners had ever had sex (from 41% to 38%). Of those who had sex, the number of school learners that had two or more sexual partners in their lifetime significantly reduced (from 45% to 41%), and less learners had one or more sexual partners during the past three months (from 70% to 52%). Also, of those who ever had sex, the incidence of sexually transmitted infections significantly reduced (from 7% to 4%), while consistent condom use increased slightly (29% to 31%).
love them enough to talk about sex: Honest talk in an age of HIV…
loveLife's parent's publication is your practical guide to protecting your family from HIV. It has been designed to:
- Help you build on your child's attitude to life
- Equip you with all the facts about HIV and how we can stop the virus
- Help you keep your children in school and protect them
- Help you talk and listen to your teen – and how to prepare for this ongoing discussion before you sit down with your child
- Understand and deal with the physical and emotional changes of puberty
- Build an honest and open relationship with your children