Professor Alan McKee
Navigating sex and relationships in the digital age
06 Jul 2018
Young people, sexuality and relationships in the digital age was the topic of expert discussion in Penrith at a recent forum hosted by Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s Population Health team in collaboration with Family Planning NSW.
The discussion, held at the Q Theatre, saw eight ‘sexperts’ take the stage in front of an invitation-only audience of health professionals, teachers, parents, youth workers and youth representatives to discuss how young people can be better supported to experience their sexuality in a world of fast-paced technological and social change.
Hosted by Jan Fran from SBS current affairs program ‘The Feed’, panel guests included former Dolly Doctor columnist, Dr Melissa Kang, author of sex education resource Talk Soon. Talk Often, Jenny Walsh and researcher of sexualised media, Professor Alan McKee, along with youth representatives Scarlett Franks and Harry Wong.
Topics covered by the expert panel included social media and personal safety online, the legal system, education, consent and pornography.
On the subject of the impact of pornography on young people, Professor McKee says, “Pornography does not harm young people but you do not want it to be the entirety of their sex education.”
Dr Melissa Kang agrees, “It’s important to acknowledge that sexuality is part of being human.”
Much of the discussion examined current sex education practices and how best to support young people as they navigate sexuality and relationships.
Professor McKee cited fellow panellist Jenny Walsh’s book, Talk Soon. Talk Often, saying, “Talk Soon. Talk Often is, I think, the only book that needs to be given to anybody who’s involved in sex education, whether that be parents or educators.”
Talk Soon. Talk Oftenis a supportive resource for families, encouraging the development of happy, healthy and confident young people. It aims to establish open and honest communication from early in childhood, with a focus on personal development and self-esteem.
Talking soon, and talking often helps parents and carers avoid the need for that ‘one big talk’. Instead, the book provides tips on creating easy conversations about bodies, relationships, health and sexuality, as part of routine communication.
“I’ve seen two studies now which say that when kids stumble across sexually explicit materials on the internet, they’re more upset by the way their parents react than they are by the material that they actually see on the internet,” says Professor McKee.
Talk Soon. Talk Often is a free resource distributed by the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Sexual Health Promotion team. The book can be read online or for a hard copy, please contact a member of the team on 4734 3877 or email Bronwyn.Leece@health.nsw.gov.au.
6 July 2018