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Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - 7/10/18 -

Some­times we get an irate email from a reader who has a prob­lem with our long-run­ning sex ad­vice col­umn by Robyn Sal­is­bury.

The com­plaints are usu­ally the same: “My 9-year-old was read­ing a story in your mag­a­zine only to turn the page and be con­fronted with SEX! Shame on you.”

I’ve writ­ten be­fore about Robyn and the re­spect I have for the work she does – not least as a colum­nist for Sun­day and the Stuff web­site. Her ad­vice is con­sid­ered, sen­si­ble, kind, and re­flects her years of ex­pe­ri­ence as a ther­a­pist.

A grand­mother, Robyn is mar­ried to the same man she be­gan dat­ing as a teenager, and yet she still seems to un­der­stand the wide range of in­creas­ingly com­pli­cated prob­lems en­coun­tered in the quest for hu­man con­nec­tion.

Of course, men­tion chil­dren and sex in the same sen­tence and ev­ery­one gets un­der­stand­ably tense. Prob­a­bly be­cause the sex­ual abuse of chil­dren is among the most re­pul­sive and dam­ag­ing crimes pos­si­ble.

But chil­dren know­ing about sex and be­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ately ex­posed to it are not the same thing. I’m not say­ing that we de­sign Robyn’s col­umn to be read by kids – we don’t, and what’s ap­pro­pri­ate for them to see is a per­sonal mat­ter for ev­ery par­ent.

But why do we shroud one of the fun­da­men­tals of life in se­crecy and shame? Any­one who has ever talked to a small child about sex will know that their re­ac­tion ranges from mat­ter-of-fact cu­rios­ity to to­tal bore­dom. All the kink and the in­trigue and wink wink, nudge nudge – that’s added by adults. We’re the ones who can’t cope with the sub­ject and maybe that’s a re­sult of the way we first learned about it our­selves. Be open with kids about sex and they will grow up more able to both pro­tect them­selves from un­wanted ex­pe­ri­ences and em­brace the ones they ac­tu­ally de­sire. At least, that’s what former es­cort agency owner and Stuff colum­nist Jen­nifer Souness be­lieves – her views are on page 12. Check out Sun­day mag­a­zine on­line

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