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Children aged 11 to 16+
“Can I get Instagram now?”

“Why are you always asking questions?”

“How do I say no?”

Skater Girl
The facts
  • The average age for starting puberty in the UK is 11 for girls; the earliest sign is often the development of breast buds. Around two years after this, girls usually have their first period. For boys the average age is 12, and the earliest sign is often an enlarging of the testicles. Puberty can take up to four years

  • Young people prefer a “sex positive” approach to sex education which focuses on “life skills” and relationships rather than risks and abstinence, according to the BMJ, but report that this is lacking

  • Children want parents to get involved – and our job doesn’t end with delivering the facts around sex and sexual health. 70% of young adults report wishing they had received more information from their parents about some emotional aspect of a romantic relationship, according to the 2017 Harvard report The Talk

Top tips


Ask your child for information regarding a sex-ed topic. For example: “I don’t understand why some kids still get bullied for being gay. Does that happen at your school too?” Remember, their school sex ed may well have been better than your own! Even if you have a good idea of the answer, asking your child questions implies respect for their knowledge & judgment

Never guess the answer to a question. Inform yourself – go off and do some research or talk to someone else about how to approach it, and then revisit. It’s OK if you aren’t an expert! Admit it if you aren’t sure how to discuss a topic or find it challenging to talk because communicating frankly about these topics wasn’t something you experienced while growing up



As a way into difficult topics, ask your child what their friends say. Discuss their friends’ opinions and challenges about things like porn or sexting, and follow up by asking what their advice would be. Talking about others’ experiences gives your child a chance to talk about their feelings indirectly and practise handling difficult situations in a safe way

Be mindful of respecting your child’s privacy. They may not want to talk with you about their thoughts and experiences all the time. If they are embarrassed or shy, say it’s OK to talk about it another time. At least by continuing to bring up topics over time, you are laying the groundwork for future communication and letting them know that you are there to support them if they need advice


Top phrases

“Help me make up my mind on this…”

“I think you’re mature enough to talk about this now”

“Your reaction shows me you know something about this already”

“Is there more to it than that?”

More help with ages 11 to 16+
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SEX ED RESCUE  |  Parent Toolkit 

Sex Ed Rescue’s Parent Toolkit is a treasure trove of links and articles. We especially like the Values worksheet, Teachable Moments and Sex Education Barriers Checklist  Go to Sex Ed Rescue >
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IT HAPPENS... |  Things We Like

It Happens - who deliver great sex ed in schools - spend a lot of time signposting students & adults to more info. They have gathered together their favourite organisations, books, vids and clips here  Go to It Happens' Things We Like page >
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FUMBLE  |  Online sex & relationships magazine for older teens

Great guide for older teens. Fumble aims to plug the hefty gap left by inadequate relationships & sex education, giving young people amazing, relevant social content to read, view and share  Go to Fumble >

SCARLETEEN  |  Website for teens that parents can learn from

No wonder this excellent resource for teens and emerging adults bills itself as “Sex ed for the real world”. Approachable & inclusive, it’s full of support and advice. Lots to empathise with – and of interest for adults to delve into too…  Go to Scarleteen >

Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may also need different support.

If you’re in doubt about your child’s development, you should seek the advice of a professional

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