I think good sex education is a life-long gift that parents can give their children. Talking to children about sexuality opens many channels of communication besides sexuality. Talking about sex as a natural part of life signals to children that their parents are emotionally available and sensitive to them. If parents do not talk about sex with their children, children are left on their own to interpret the confusing and often destructive messages that they get from peers, the mass media, and the internet. These sources of information are distorted and may even be frightening. If children do not learn otherwise, they may act in ways that hurt themselves and others. It is up to parents to provide children with information that helps children to make good decisions about their own sexual behaviors. Sex education starts in infancy. For example, when parents teach infants and toddlers the names of various body parts such as nose, eyes, and knees, they can teach them correct terms for their sexual body parts that are between the collarbone and knees, such as vagina, vulva, penis, anus, buttocks, and breasts. It is okay to also use “pet” and family names for sexual body parts, but knowledge of the more formal terms is important, too.
If parents do not talk to their children about sexuality, children are unlikely to talk to parents. Studies show that children who have received a good sex education tell parents if something has touched them inappropriately, except if abusers have scared these children into silence. Studies also show that young people who have received a good sex education delay sexual intercourse by an average of three years. It could be that parental willingness to talk about sex with their children is yet another sign of emotional availability. Children of such parents therefore not only have good information about sexuality but they have secure attachments to their parents.