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Frank Discussion about sex key to avoiding unwanted pregnancies

by Claire O'Sullivan

Sitting downa and discussing sex aned puberty with your children is one of the most effective ways of ensuring they will delay having sex and avoid unwanted preganancies and abortions later in life, according to the Crisis Pregancy Agency.

Research shows that children who have frank discussions with their parents about sex, contraception and STDs tend to take less risks with sex. Irish people have traditionally found this discussion difficult and so the agency, in conjunction with Health Service Executive, yesterday published 200,000 copies of their Busy Bodies booklet, a resource for fifth and sixth class pupils and their parents.

Public relations and communications manager Enda Saul said the leaflet will be given to the pre-teens after they've watched the Busy Bodies DVD in school. "We've had very positive feedback from the school children after they watched the DVD and so the booklet follows this up. It's also accissible and age-appropriate and can be brought home where ideally, it can be shown to parents and so help start a discussion around puberty. All the international research shows that youngsters who can discuss sex with their parents are less likely to have unwanted pregnancies and contract sexually transmitted diseases," she said.

"Teenagers and pre-teens are hearing a lot of mixed messages out there - so many myths - that often come from their peers. We are giving them accessible information that can allow them to make the right decisions. We're strongly recommending parents talk to children about what's in these booklets as the puberty conversation is one of the most important things you can do to protect them from misinformation," she added.

There were 2,320 births to teenagers in 2005, compared with 3,106 in 2000. The number of women travelling to Britain for an abortion reduced frim 7.5 per 1,000 in 2001 to six per 1,000 in 2006, while the abortion rate for teenagers decreased from six per 1,000 to 4.5 in the same period.

Cork School Project Deputy Principal, Elizabeth McKennedy Reviewed the origianal drafts of the booklets and provided feedback to the authors. "This booklet will be a great support for our teachers when informing fifth and sixth class children about the physical and emotional changes of puberty. It complements the information on the Busy Bodies DVD, is colourful, well illustrated and age-appropriate. Teachers can also refer parents to the booklet so that they can use it with their children at home," she said.