Let’s Talk About the Birds and Bees

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Having "The Sex Talk" with your children might seem terribly uncomfortable, but it's important for you to be their resource on the topic. That means talking about the subject in an ongoing manner, instead of a "one and done" approach.

The national public education campaign "Let's Talk" is celebrated in October and coordinated by Advocates for Youth. Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) encourages parents and care givers to continue talking with youth about how to make good decisions about sex, contraception and pregnancy.

  • Parents are the best sexuality educators for their children.
  • Teens consistently say that parents most influence their decisions about sex.
  • Parents want to be good sex educators, but may not always know how.
  • It is possible to be an "ask-able" adult.

According to the 2013 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey, the average age of students who first had oral sex or sexual intercourse was 15½. By 12th grade, 47 percent of students had engaged in oral sex, 40 percent in sexual intercourse, and 37 percent in sexting. 

In 2013, Ottawa County had 243 teen pregnancies, with only 68 percent being live births (166 babies born). Of these, 37 were repeat teen pregnancies (26 live births).

The high rate of chlamydia cases in Ottawa County is also a health issue. In 2014, there were 704 positive cases of chlamydia.

"We know it can be difficult to have conversations about sensitive topics, but it is important for parents to talk with their children about abstinence and sexuality."
—Heather Alberda, OCDPH, Sexuality Educator.

10 Tips for Parents:

  • Be open.
  • Be the expert.
  • Be accessible.
  • Be trusting.
  • Stay calm.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Listen to your teen.
  • Put yourself in their shoes.
  • Appeal to common goals.
  • Show your interest.

Additional Resources:

"Let's Talk" Resources

OCDPH Parent's Guide to Engaging in a Sexual Health Conversation

Courtesy of MIOttawa Department of Public Health.

Photo courtesy of Ottawa County Health Department.

Click here to read a West Michigan Woman blog post about having "The Sex Talk" with your kids.



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