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Sex and Relationships

I have just finished a talk on Sex and Relationships for a whole school assembly (800 teenagers ranging in age from 13 to 18). It proved tricky pitching it so that it was appropriate for all ages but I think it is so important that we talk to teens about relationships, intimacy, sexuality and consent and so.
As parents the idea of our little treasures becoming sexual beings is unlikely to be a comfortable one but it will happen. I think our job is to make sure they understand that to feel safe they first need to be in an intimate and respectful relationship. That it is ok to experiment at your own speed and that saying “No” is always ok.
We need to teach them about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships; about consent versus coercion; that sex without intimacy is unlikely to feel safe or fulfilling and will not increase their popularity status. Really….. sex without intimacy is just friction and there is plenty of that to be seen from the safety of their bedrooms on high speed internet porn sites.
Porn is adult material made for adult viewers but it is so easy to access and the average age for first coming across it in the UK right now is under 10 – a statistic that horrifies most parents I meet. We can do the responsible thing and have filters on our computer systems but let’s not be naive enough to think that they can’t find their way around this inconvenience should they chose to and why wouldn’t they look? Online porn is informative on a mechanical level, it fires off the brain’s reward system and is infinitely less embarrassing than asking us for information. As their brains adjust to what they are watching and they need higher levels of stimulation to achieve the same level of satisfaction, the online porn industry steps up to the mark. There is anything and everything out there and most of it would shock the hell out of us never mind what it might do to an impressionable teenager.
Pornography causes desensitisation, performance anxiety, creates unrealistic expectations, and what most teens (and parents) don’t know is that it is also highly addictive and can lead to serious problems with erectile dysfunction and low libido. Pornography is particularly dangerous for young users (boys and girls) whose brains are rewiring because it can lay down some pretty unhelpful sexual proclivities – imagine only being able to get an erection when watching hard core porn rather than when with a partner.
This is the reality and study after study has shown the link between porn use and Porn Induced Erectile Dysfunction, low libido, loss of motivation and depression – if you want the scientific evidence then I suggest you have a look at this website link and then show your teens the excellent video “Porn Myths” made by Gabe Deem.
But whatever you do don’t sweep the subject under the carpet and assume that it will be covered in PSHE lessons at school. We need to do some parrot programming here (see my book) because the problems that porn is causing are real, they are increasing and we need to help young people make informed and healthy choices.
Sex is supposed to be fun, playful, loving and fulfilling – porn has its place but do we really think it is ok for teens to be turned on by pixels rather than real people – methinks not. Be brave and just keep talking – you can do it!

Your Brain On Porn | Evolution has not prepared your brain for today’s Internet porn
What happens when you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat? First, you see a frenzy…


Gabe Deen is very real and informative on the subject, please watch it yourself first and then show it to your teenage children. Gabe’s website also has some good advice on how to deal with porn addiction.

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If you are struggling with talking to your teenagers about Sexual Consent, please show them this clip it is brilliant! Apologies for the language at the beginning. Wishing you all a very happy Easter.

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