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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jewett

Let’s hear it from the kids: young people’s tips for parents on talking openly

Banner saying "The Things I Wish My Parents Had Known: young people's advice on talking ot your child about online sexual harassment"
Words to the wise: digital natives can steer parents in the direction of talking openly. Image: Children’s Commissioner

Because Outspoken Sex Ed is all about getting parents to talk openly with their children about sex-ed topics, we’re over the moon that a new Children’s Commissioner for England report gives parents tips from young people aged 16 to 21 on how parents can discuss online sexual harassment, porn, sexting, body image and sexualised bullying with their kids.

To read how excited we are about how this report provides up-to-date evidence and more validation of parents as the missing link in their children’s sex education, see our blog post Proof positive: how the Children’s Commissioner report validates parents talking openly.

Here are our edited highlights from the Children’s Commissioner’s Instagram tips and landmark 16 December 2021 report The Things I Wish My Parents Had Known…

Card saying: Don't wait for the crisis

Tip #1

Be proactive

• Create a home environment that’s safe and trusting so your child can open up to you

• Be involved in your child’s decision-making early on so you’ll be better equipped to step in if need be

• Be ready to help if something goes wrong

Card saying: Don't mention it once and think that's enough

Tip #2

Keep talking!

• Be vulnerable, share your memories and imagine how different it would have been experiencing things online

• Let your child be the expert – that builds mutual trust

Card saying: Don't scare them with "the big talk"

Tip #3

Talk little and often!

• Keep it casual

• It’s OK to laugh – you don’t have to be serious!

Card saying: Don't punish them before listening and understanding

Tip #4

Focus on your child’s feelings

Be non-judgmental and ready to help your child rather than taking their phone or keeping them offline

Card saying: Don't pretend these issues don't exist

Tip #5

Be aware of what’s happening & what’s out there

Learn about new technologies and trends, including risky behaviours

Card saying: Don't leave your child unsupervised online without using monitoring and filter tools. You wouldn't leave them alone in the park or the street – apply the same level of protection online

Tip #6

Set up safeguarding

• Be honest and explain

• Agree on ground rules, such as time limits, that can change

Talking openly isn’t a walk in the park! So watch an #AsktheAwkward video for kids aged 4 to 18 on Sex, relationships & young people from the always on-target ThinkUKnow resources

Card saying: Conversation starters, with examples of what to ask kids

Here’s more of what young people think will work…