FEATURE

The Birds and The Bees Talk for Girls: Tackling Sex Education Early

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Having ‘the talk’ about sex can be nerve-wracking for parents, but doing so early in your daughter’s development may help her better understand the changes in her body without losing body confidence in the process..

Perhaps you’re not sure if you really need to have ‘the talk’ with your girl. After all, she may already be receiving formal sex education through her school. This does help, but it’s only part of the equation. Encouraging open and honest conversations about sex and her sexuality can give you peace of mind that she will be fully informed before she becomes sexually active.

Research by US sexual health body The Guttmacher Institute found that teens who receive early sex education often delay sexual activity and are more likely to use contraceptives when they do (Lindberg & Maddow-Zimet, 2012). Further academic research from the Resource Centre for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention shows that girls with lower self-esteem are three times more likely to engage in sexual intercourse (Spencer et al, 2002), underlining the importance of nurturing her confidence during the often turbulent teen years.

The reality of self-taught sex education

Living in today’s technological age, arming your daughter with accurate and ample information is imperative. A 2013 report commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner for England entitled Basically… porn is everywhere examined the impact pornography has on young people and reported “there is growing evidence that indicates that young people are unhappy with the sex education they are receiving and that they increasingly use pornography, expecting it to educate and give information regarding sexual practices and norms.”

Parenting and sexual health expert Amy Lang explains: “The reality is most children will see internet pornography before they start middle school [around age 12]. The long-term problem with children and teens viewing porn is they are incorporating what they are learning into their developing brains and their developing sense of their own sexuality. This can lead to self-esteem problems because kids think porn stars have real, normal bodies and are having real, normal sex.”

Continue reading at the Dove Self-Esteem Project website.

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Bio

Sharon HeadshotSharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing.

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Bio

Sharon grew up in a suburb of Toronto, Canada and earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology (B.Sc.) and Exceptionality in Human Learning (B.A.) at the University of Toronto. In her last year of study, she was a regular guest on the radio program Life Rattle where she orated several of her short stories, many of which addressed body image and violence against women. After graduation she devoted her energies to a lengthy career in social work, in roles that included supporting families and individuals with intellectual and physical handicaps, co-facilitating eating disorder support groups, and acting as a literacy assessor and educator for homeless women. Upon reaching burnout, she decided to re-evaluate her professional goals via traveling, studying alternative healing arts, and writing. After backpacking throughout Mexico, Southeast Asia, and much of South America, she found her second home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was there she committed herself to writing. She studied the craft, joined a writer's group (Thursdays@Three), and experimented with various styles of fiction and non-fiction, which led to her participation as an author, editor, and presenter at the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires in 2008 and 2009 representing the US Embassy.

Today, she is a freelance writer and editor who has worked with a wide variety of subjects, including but not limited to medicine, web design, the American justice system, wind technology, anthropology, psychology, and the English and Spanish languages. She has authored textbooks and several online courses for colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Latin America. From authoring white papers to copy editing university-level exams, from ghostwriting for bestselling authors to development editing quarterly and annual reports, Sharon's experience is far-reaching.

She especially enjoys combining her love of the written word with her passion for body image activism and feminism. She regularly writes for Herizons, Canada's leading feminist magazine, and most recently, has contributed to Fifty Shades of Feminism (Virago), an anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

In 2009, Sharon joined the London-based AnyBody team, part of the international movement Endangered Bodies, which inspired her to organize Endangered Species: Preserving the Female Body in Buenos Aires, one of five international summits held in March 2011. Subsequently, she founded AnyBody Argentina, the Buenos Aires chapter of Endangered Bodies, which fights against sizeism and promotes healthy body image for Argentine girls and women, issues that Sharon writes about in both English and Spanish. From 2009-2014, she was co-editor for AdiosBarbie.com, a website that promotes healthy body image and identity for people of all sizes, ages, races, cultures, abilities, and sexual identities and orientations.

Since January 2013, Sharon has been a member of the Global Advisory Board for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, advising on issues affecting today's young people with a specific focus on improving their self-esteem and body confidence. Sharon also contributes to various resources for parents, mentors, and youth leaders, and in addition to writing original, extensively researched articles for the Dove Self-Esteem site.

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Proud Contributor to:

Fifty Shades of FeminismPublished in March 2013, Sharon contributes "Owning the F-word" to this anthology of "fifty women young and old - writers, politicians, actors, scientists, mothers - [who] reflect on the shades that inspired them and what being woman means to them today."

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