Greensboro, NC -- After news that a 10 year-old girl from Columbia gave birth started circulating on the internet, Facebook and Twitter, the story became one of the top trending stories worldwide.
Part of the comments included parents talking about how difficult it is to talk to their kids about puberty and sex, and when they should do it. Public school students start health education including puberty and sex education in 4th grade.
Jean Workman has been talking to kids about puberty and sex education for years. She now works for Children's Aid Society.
She says parents need to talk to kids about everything and anything, no matter when the kids bring up the subject. She says telling a child, "You don't need to know that now" stops the open communication between parent and child.
With that in mind, Workman says that doesn't mean you need to give them all the details. Her advice is to clarify what the child is asking so you don't give them more details than they're seeking. She says when a child asks you a question, ask them, "What do you mean?"
Her example was a child asking the question, "How was I born?". Workman says when you ask the clarifying question you can figure out if they mean they want to hear the reproductive story or if they are just wondering if it was in a hospital and where. She says even if your child is 5 years-old and they bring a maxi pad to you and say, "What is this for?", don't pass it off. She says tell them what it's for in their terms. She calls them "courageous conversations."
Workman has worked for the health department for years and has been helping parents talk to their kids for decades. She recommended these websites for help:
Advocates for Youth
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of NC
Guilford Coalition on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention