All with good intent but we shouldn’t render ourselves powerless when deciding what is right and wrong for us. The best way of knowing if something feels right or wrong is fundamentally within ourselves. Equally important, when we are making decisions about having sex with someone, feeling empowered in that situation is a further barometer.
To talk openly about sex will mean that beliefs aren’t shaped passively by social media, inexperienced friends or TV. It also sets the expectation that when young people begin to think about sex that open communication, sharing values, feelings and beliefs are a prerequisite before having sex. Young people’s beliefs about sex will determine their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This is why it’s important to talk about it early enough so that they are guided to form their own beliefs so they can make empowered and informed choices.
Below is a diagram that shows the cyclical process we take before we act out a particular behaviour or respond to a situation according to our beliefs. If we apply this to a scenario of two teenagers thinking about having sex for the first time what do we think the outcome could be if one held the view that sex is a given in every relationship and the other believes that sex should wait until marriage? How can we ensure that they have the communication skills to express their beliefs, values and desires?
At EdShift we have specifically designed our Act Out/ Speak Up programme to enable participants to understand cognitive processes. We have constructed scenarios around it so that young people can develop their consequential thinking skills, cognitive abilities and feel empowered to have difficult conversations that may lead to complex feelings.
Here is a guide for teenagers who may be thinking about having sex or a tool for parents to use to initiate that first conversation.
If you are unsure about having sex read this guide before you reach a decision. If you prefer find someone you trust to talk it through with or write down your responses.
Find a quiet place and somewhere you feel safe.
What is my belief about sex? (Beliefs and values determine our attitudes and opinions)
List/ say some adjectives
Are my thoughts negative or positive?
Are my feelings good or bad?
List as many feelings attached to the situation
Am I sleeping well, eating, socialising?
If you have experienced a situation where you have felt forced into sex or you are feeling pressured to have it, please talk to an adult that you trust. This could be a parent, a sibling or a teacher at school. If you feel there isn’t anyone you can talk to please use the confidential number provided, where you can talk to someone who will give you the support you need. There is also a website for any further advice and guidance.
National Childline free on – Phone: 0800 1111