Supporting healthy sexual experiences

Supporting healthy sexual experiences

As young people’s interest in sex develops, you can support them to develop their understanding around the principles of healthy sexual experiences.

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Talking through the principles of healthy sexual experiences could help young people to:

  • Only engage in sexual experiences that are healthy for them

  • Develop positive sexual self esteem 

  • Know services/people to contact if they are in need of support

Healthy sexual experiences

Sexual experiences can be in person and/or online and exist on a spectrum, ranging from what can be considered healthy, positive experiences up to unhealthy and/or abusive experiences.

Awareness of the 4 principles of healthy sexual experiences will help you to recognise any signs that a young person’s sexual experiences are becoming unhealthy.

The principles of healthy sexual experiences

  1.  Respect. Before, during and after sexual activity, both people care about and respond to their own and the other person’s feelings.

  2. Enjoyment. Both people should be enjoying the sexual activity and checking in with the other person about their feelings.

  3. Consent. Both people only do sexual activities which they both want to do; without any force, pressure or persuasion. Both people have full capacity to consent to sexual activity.

  4. Honesty. There isn’t any deception, trickery, or withholding of relevant information.

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How to talk to young people about healthy sexual experiences

Talking regularly to your child about healthy sexual experiences helps to maintain an open, honest and ongoing conversation between you.

This will help your child to feel confident in seeking support for any worries they may have.

Top tips

The following tips can be used to help you begin having conversations with your child about healthy, respectful relationships and sexual experiences.

refer to the principles of healthy sexual experiences discussed above to guide conversations with your child.

use films or TV programmes, or imaginary scenarios, to help explore and discuss young people’s views on sexual experiences.

start having conversations early - when your child begins Relationships and Sex Education at school can be a useful guide.

show that it’s normal and helpful to talk about relationships and sexual experiences - including conversations as a regular part of your week will help to ease any awkwardness.

Our resource #AskTheAwkward can help you explore online relationships with secondary aged children, developing shared understanding, trust and support between you.

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Where can young people access support?

The following organisations provide tailored advice and support for young people:

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What should I do if I have a concern about a young person’s sexual behaviour?

The following organisations can be contacted for further advice and support:

  • Shore provides anonymous support online for teenagers worried about their own or someone else’s sexual thoughts or behaviour. 

  • Parents Protect is linked to Shore and provides advice for parents and carers on topics such as how abuse happens and potential warning signs in adults and children.

  • Stop it now provides support via phone, online chat and email for those with a concern about their own sexual thoughts/behaviour or that of another adult or young person.