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October Marks “Let’s Talk Month” in Minnesota

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October 3, 2007

St. Paul, MN – October has been designated "Let's Talk Month" in Minnesota, in an effort to encourage parents to talk with their kids about sexuality and provide them with a healthy perspective. Teen advocate Brigid Riley, executive director of the Minnesota Organization of Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting, says kids need to get the basics from a trusted source, so they can sift through conflicting messages -- from the media, and their peers.

"Young people today are faced with a nonstop barrage of images and music that is full of sexual content. They really need some help in developing a screen for themselves."

Riley says, while parents are kids' primary educators, it's also important that schools, faith-based groups, and community-based agencies get involved. She says honest talk and good information about sexuality can last a lifetime.

"Young people who have the information about sexual development, and about sexual health, as they get older, are going to be able to make better decisions about when, or if, they become sexually involved. They'll know what kinds of protection are available to prevent too-early pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. They'll also really think about the future they want for themselves."

Riley understands that some parents aren't comfortable talking about sexual health, because their parents didn't discuss it with them. However, they need to overcome inhibitions, for the sake of their kids.

"The biggest things to pay attention to are; to answer the questions that your children are asking, to answer honestly, and be as medically-accurate as you can be. There's plenty of information now that you can tap into if you don't know the answers. Also, of course, you should talk about some challenging things, like sexual assault and how to make good decisions and stand by them. Most of all, it's really important to ground this whole conversation in what you as a family really want to stand for."

She adds talking about real-life things also builds a trusting parent-child relationship, which helps with other challenging issues as kids grow up.

To learn more about "Let's Talk Month," visit www.moappp.org.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN