'Get Comfy' with Sex-Ed
It’s time to ‘Get Comfy’ with sex-ed, with research revealing Australians feel underprepared when it comes to real-life experiences. Act for Kids is encouraging families to start having conversations with their children about sex, body, consent, and relationships.
Act for Kids commissioned its own research which asked people about their sex education, whether it was adequate and if they felt comfortable discussing sex, bodies, and relationships with family members. Incredibly, despite recent national conversation around the importance of learning consent, as a nation we still aren’t comfortable having such conversations. Act for Kids research revealed that 55 per cent of people aren’t comfortable talking to their parents, and 33 per cent of parents don’t feel comfortable talking to their kids about sex.
Reflecting on their own sex education, 79 per cent of people said their sex education did not prepare them for real-life experiences, and only 19 per cent of people learned about consent. Unfortunately, one in five women and one in ten men felt pressured the first time they had sex.
Consent should be taught from a young age. A child’s brain starts developing emotional and social connections from birth. The early years are a crucial time to introduce an understanding of consent. Consent isn’t just about saying no to sex, it’s about knowing your rights and establishing personal safety boundaries. Example 1: You can talk with your young child about safe touch versus unsafe touch during everyday activities like bath time.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education
Comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality topics that affect children and young people’s sexual growth and development using culturally relevant, medically accurate information should include:
- Body changes and puberty
- Respectful behaviour and language
- Respectful relationships
- Safe sex
- Sexual decisions
- Sexual expression
- Contraception/birth control
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Tips to ‘Get comfy’
- Start conversations about sex, consent, and relationships with your child from a young age.
- Keep conversations open and age appropriate – follow your child’s lead & use words they can understand
- Use the correct words for body parts.
- Answer questions in a calm, casual manner.
- Ask your child what they already know so you can ensure they have the appropriate information.
- Don’t make it awkward – it’s important to remember if you don’t talk to them, they may get their information online or from an unsafe or unreliable source.
- Talk regularly, rather than having ‘the chat’.
- Explain the importance of consent, especially in a sexual context – ‘yes’ means yes, ‘no’ means no, and ‘maybe’ means no.
- Cover a range of topics like sexting, sexual preferences and pleasure, not just sex, puberty, pregnancy and safe sex practices.
- Seek resources if you’re unsure about a topic.
- Remind your child they can always ask you questions and talk to you, or offer them the contact number for a safe resource (see our resource details below)
For children needing support:
- Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 or www.kidshelpline.com.au
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au
- Beyond Bullying Project: www.beyondbullyingproject.com
- Family practitioners. health nurses and school guidance officers
For parents and carers:
- State Governments’ education websites are a great place to find out what schools are teaching students, as well as teaching and learning resources such as: www.qld.gov.au/families/education/sex
- Speak to your General Practitioner if you’re worried or would like more resources.
- SEA is a website designed purely to support parents and further help you to answer any tricky questions: www.sexeducationaustralia.com.au/parents-4/
For more information, please download our fact sheet.
Last year, over 480,000 reports were made to child protection authorities.
Over 174,700 kids accessed child protective services. That’s 1 in every 32 Aussie kids!