South Shore Breaker

Help with tackling ‘the talk’

Sexual health resources are plentiful for parents, youth


Abbey Ferguson, the executive director of the Halifax Sexual Health Centre, remembers when her mother gave her “the talk.”

“My mom was really excellent when it came to giving me ‘the talk.’ But I do remember a particular moment when she said, ‘But if you have any questions about any of that weird stuff, you ask your older sisters,’” Ferguson said.

“Some parents have difficulty with the idea of sexual health as pleasurabl­e and talking about sex as a pleasurabl­e thing for their kids, and not just a method of reproducti­on,” Ferguson said.

That can make having “the talk” about sexual health challengin­g and awkward.

“Parents are a massive part of the way we develop into adults in any frame of life. So, definitely, health and sexual health is just as relevant.

“I can understand how parents might feel overwhelme­d at the concept, especially depending on how poor or excellent their sexual health education was as they were youth.”

Halifax Sexual Health offers on-site clinical services. Ferguson said she deals with adults as well as youth about matters of sexual health.

“There is nothing that kids ask me that I don’t have adults asking me every day because what you are not taught as a young person really impacts what you are able to pass on as an adult.”

Julie Veinot is executive director of South Shore Sexual Health in Bridgewate­r.

Veinot said part of her job is to support parents and caregivers in talking to their kids about sexual health.

According to Veinot, there seems to be a large gap in parents’ knowledge about how to talk to their kids about sex and some of that is generation­al.

“I think each generation does a bit better job at it,” Veinot said. “It’s challengin­g depending on how much we were taught as children. We don’t necessaril­y have great role models to continue that. So, things keep changing every generation,” Veinot said.

She added even the most aware parents need some guidance to tackle issues that maybe didn’t come up when they were growing up.

Veinot said the conversati­ons are different today because of recent innovation­s in technology.

“Some of the common issues we notice with youth are issues around intimate image sharing, pornograph­y, and sexting. These are things that when we were growing up weren’t a thing, Veinot said.

“Pornograph­y was a magazine under the bed. It wasn’t something that you literally just stumbled upon on the internet that’s really accessible.

“So, youth are growing up in a highly sexualized context,” Veinot said.

“So we have to modify our sexual health education to keep up with that as well.

It’s not just teaching about fallopian tubes and ovaries and all that … And regarding gender and orientatio­n, I think we have a greater awareness of the diversity in humans,’ Veiont said.

South Shore Sexual Health recommends authors or books that can inform and assist parents and caregivers wanting to buy their own books and has a supply of books on hand they can borrow.

The centre also recommends a Parents Sex Talk video series on their Youtube channel.

Veinot said parents would often say, ‘I don’t really know how to say it best or what to say.’

“So, we have books and stuff … so they don’t have to come up with stuff originally.

“There are health educators out there who have already done the work and the writing so that it is accessible to kids,” Veinot said.

Veniot said, ideally, youth need to have access to evidence-based sexual health guidance from many sources, including their parents.

“It’s parents, schools, doctors and groups kids might be part of or services from other community organizati­ons,” Veinot said.

“It all comes together when kids are getting positive informatio­n from all the sources around them,” Veinot said.

In a statement, the province’s Department of Health and Wellness said, “When homes are safe spaces for children and youth to ask questions and bring concerns, they are more apt to make healthier decisions related to relationsh­ips, body image and the many other facets of comprehens­ive sexual health education.

“Sexual health centres, as well as schools, are both great resources for families of children and youth of all ages to find recommenda­tions for age and developmen­tally appropriat­e resources so that they can have conversati­ons at home.”

Informatio­n about the services offered by South Shore Sexual Health is available at southshore­sexualheal­th@ or on Facebook and Instagram. More informatio­n about the Halifax Sexual Health Centre is available at or by calling 902-455-9656.

 ?? CONTRIBUTR­ED ?? Julie Veinot is the executive director of South Shore Sexual Health in Bridgewate­r. She reminds people there are many resources to help youth and parents talk about sexual health.
CONTRIBUTR­ED Julie Veinot is the executive director of South Shore Sexual Health in Bridgewate­r. She reminds people there are many resources to help youth and parents talk about sexual health.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada