The Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention, & Parenting (MOAPPP), Advocates for Youth, Hennepin County, and Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) are among a number of groups sponsoring "Let's Talk Month," a national campaign to encourage parents to educate their children about sex and reproductive health.
The campaign, which kicks off this week, is focused on helping parents "talk with their children, from toddlers to teens, about birth, babies, bodies, families and healthy sexuality," according to a press release from Planned Parenthood.
"Parents are so important in imparting information about sexual health and sexuality to their children. If we can equip parents to do that job, we think long-term we'll have more sexually healthy adults," said Brigid Riley, the executive director of MOAPPP, in an interview with Minnesota Monitor. Riley said that parents educating their children about sexual health will help "reduce the incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases, as well as helping to prevent unplanned pregnancy."
Kathi Di Nicola, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, agreed.
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"Parents and caregivers have an important role teaching their children about sexuality, shaping their values and helping them develop into sexually healthy young adults," she said in an interview with Minnesota Monitor. "This event is about empowering parents to comfortably have these important conversations with their children."
Riley added that it's important that parents educate their children about reproductive health.
"Everything from naming body parts correctly when they're toddlers to making sure they understand your family's values and expectations as they grow older" is important for children to know, she said.
The campaign, which runs through the end of October, encourages states and local communities to implement their own activities but to use the materials created by Advocates for Youth as a guide.
"There is not just one important thing," said Weisel, when asked what the most important lesson parents can impart would be. "Sexuality is a natural, healthy, life-long part of being human. That said, the music of the message is important: be askable and welcoming of questions from the beginning; be willing to talk about uncomfortable subjects (it honors your child & the importance of their desire to understand; it's okay to acknowledge your discomfort – kids are usually tuned into it anyway); help clarify misconceptions; be curious together. No parent can know every answer and every parent gets to keep returning to fine-tune their message for their child."
Riley said that the ultimate goal is to improve the overall health of society.
"We're really trying to promote the idea that sexuality is a part of being human, and that it's a healthy part of being human," she said. "Parents are so important in imparting information about sexual health and sexuality to their children. If we can equip parents to do that job, we think long-term we'll have more sexually healthy adults."