Tag: Sex Education

Sex Education @ The Morning Show

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Kimberley O’Brien, our principal child psychologist was invited to discuss sex education and how parents  and school can best approach this. Kimberley was called into the studio in a bit of a rush joining in hallway into the segment! Here is a fact-sheet about the subject we prepared earlier: https://childpsychologist.com.au/resources/by-issue/sex-education

If you have a story and would like to discuss it with us, please contact us to schedule a time.Kimberley O’Brien enjoys sharing the best of her therapeutic moments with the media. View our media appearances to-date.

Sexting and young people.

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Strategies for Managing Sexting and Young people

Sexting, a name given for the creating and sharing of sexually explicit pictures or messages through mobile phones, the internet and other electronic devices, has become an increasingly recognised and concerning pastime of children.

It is estimated that in 2012, over 20% of teenagers engaged in sexting, with a higher prevalence reported among girls. In a survey carried out by a popular girls magazine in 2010, around 40% of girls reported that they had been asked to send sexually explicit photos of themselves, with the majority of girls complying, citing fears about disappointing or aggravating their male peers as reasons for engaging in sexting.

Along with the negative emotional consequences that often accompany sexting experiences, such as feelings of embarrassment, regret and anxiety, are also an increased vulnerability to being exposed to cyberbullying and more serious legal ramifications.

Current legislation states that the taking, sending, receiving or possessing of naked or semi-naked images of someone under the age of 18 years can lead to a child pornography charge and placement on the Sex Offenders Register. Australian law does not distinguish between sexting and more serious sexual crimes such as paedophilia and there are no minimum age requirements, such that a young person under 18 years can be charged and placed on the Register.

Sexting between consenting persons always carries the risk of being made more public and attracting cyberbullying attacks. For example, images may be passed through social networking sites without consent and attract derogatory, abusive and vicious attack. Cyberbullying can have a significant impact on young people, with the potential for reputations to be destroyed and for young people to experience social isolation and depression as a consequence.


Why do young people engage in sexting?

A common question among clinicians, teachers and parents is why do young people engage in sexting when the consequences for doing so seem so negative?

Some answers commonly given by our young clients are that they do not view semi naked and naked images as wrong or shameful, typically viewing these images as more of an expression of fun and flirtation. Developmentally, expressing oneself sexually in the teenage years is considered to be common and normal. With recent statistics showing us that around 78% of Australian students between Years 10 to 12 engage in some form of sexual activity, sexting appears to be one way our young people are expressing their sexuality.

Additionally, young people are seeing images of their role models engaging in sexting themselves (eg. sports celebrities), such that there is a culture of acceptance and a visible lack of understanding around the real consequences so often involved in sexting experiences.

This raises an interesting question as to what safe and secure ways can young people be expressing their sexuality without attaching shame, negativity and embarrassment to the experience?

Some positive ways parents can address sexting are:

  • Discuss the issue of consent with your young person: Saying “no” in the face of peer pressure is a difficult territory for young people to navigate. Help your child identify times in which they may be exposed to peer pressure (eg. parties) and what they can do to resist the peer pressure, such as seek out a helpful friend, make an excuse to exit the party, say “no” assertively.
  • Educate yourself: young people are typically very savvy with technology and it is up to parents to be vigilant and learn about new technologies and stay up to date with the latest trends. When young people have the privilege of having a phone or device from a young age, conditions must also be implemented to protect the young person’s safety, such as parental monitoring of the phone.
  • Educate young people: Discuss with your child the social, emotional and legal risks associated with sexting and the possible future consequences. Make a plan with your child rather than lecturing them, get them to come up with what is appropriate and discuss openly any times they have engaged in sexting and the reasons for doing so, such as being peer pressured. Overcome your embarrassment about talking to your kids about sex and how they can protect themselves and keep your emotions calm.
  • Help your young person to stop and assess: develop clear boundaries around what your young person can and can’t do on a device and help them develop a clear understanding of what they should do if taking a selfie and/or receiving a sexually inappropriate message. For example, wait and think before sending, assess whether the image could be inappropriate in any way, show a parent before sending or upon receiving an image that could be inappropriate.
  • Engage school support: Schools have a variety of supports that can be helpful when addressing sexting among young people. For example, schools often have access to a Police Liaison Officer, who can be engaged to discuss sexting and cyberbullying with the students and be involved in individual cases if need be. As cyberbullying frequently involves peers, schools can aid parents in addressing the problem if it arises.
  • Address things when they arise: be alert for any signs that your young person is engaging in or receiving sexually explicit images. Often parents hope that the issue will resolve itself, however, picking up early warning signs that your young person is engaging in sexting can lead to to far better outcomes. You may be prompted to open up communication with your child about sexting if they are being more secretive and defensive around their device, agitated after using their device, selective around what pictures they show you, withdrawing from friends and seeming depressed for example.
  • Balancing young people’s right to privacy and their right to safety is one of the many challenges parents face. Providing focused guidance and support around how young people can use their devices in a safe and responsible manner needs to be an ongoing conversation in our families.



Fisher, S., Sauter, A., Slobodniuk, L. & Young, C. (2012). Sexting in Australia: The Legal and Social Ramifications. Parliament of Victoria Law Reform Committee Sexting Inquiry.

Svantesson, D. (2010). ‘Sexting’ and The Law. How Australia Regulates Electronic Communication of Non-Professional Sexual Content, Bond Law Review, 22 (2), 1-17.

Crofts, T. & Lee, M. (2012). ‘Sexting’, Children and Child Pornography. Sydney Law Review, 35 (85), 85-106.

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Sex Education

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Sexual education is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values about such important topics as identity, relationships, and intimacy. Parents often wonder when sexual education for children should be introduced, or who is responsible for educating children on sexuality.

Development and Sexual Education

  • Infants and Toddlers – Children begin to learn about their sexuality at this age, and parents are their main teachers. It is important at this stage to name all the parts the body, as this teaches children that their entire body is natural and healthy. Additionally, talking with your child and responding to their needs at this age will lay ground work for trust and open discussion as they grow older.
  • Preschool children – are very curious about bodies – their own and other people’s. They are trying on roles and behaviours and may be mimicking adults as they play doctor, marriage or catch and kiss. This combination of natural curiosity and role-playing sometimes leads to childhood sex play. It may lead to touching, and children discover that this type of touching feels good. In other words, this type of play is expected and harmless. At this age it is important however, to teach children that their bodies belong to them and that no one has the right to touch them without permission. Additionally, teaching children to say “no” if they feel uncomfortable and to talk to a trusted adult if they need help, will prepare them if they are ever faced with a situation that makes them feel unsafe.
  • Sex Education for Young children – are able to understand more complex issues about health, disease, and sexuality. Parents often find that their children are interested in birth, families and death and will often have questions, fears or concerns. By creating a home where a child feels free to ask questions about their bodies, health and sexuality, children will learn that their home is a supportive environment and will be able to approach their parents in the future. At this stage, children can be provided with basic information and will understand best when information is based on concrete examples from their lives.
  • Sex Education for Preteens – Children at this age are going through all the changes of puberty. They are often concerned about their bodies, their looks, and what is “normal”. There is a lot of social pressure at this age and due to this children need your guidance on making good decisions about relationships, communicating sexual limits, and protecting themselves from unsafe situations.
  • Sex education for Teenagers – are often very curious about sex. At this stage, it is important that they have been told basic and accurate information, including what sexual intercourse is, homosexuality, the negative consequences of sex, and information about protection.

Who should talk to your child

School based sex education is important to the health and well being of children. However, parents have a profound influence on the development of sexual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, especially in the years leading to early adolescence.

Watch a Video About Sex Education:

Therefore, most school based sex education programs are designed purely as a supplement to the information children receive from parents and caregivers. Additionally, adolescents often feel that the sex education they receive in school is inadequate, and they want open discussions with their parents.

Tips for talking with your child about sexuality

  • It’s a parents responsibility to introduce sex education the topic little by little, don’t wait for your child to start the conversation.
  • Find out what your children already know, for example “where do you think babies come from?”. Correct any misinformation and give the true facts about sex education.
  • Reward your children for asking questions about sex education rather than brushing of the subject. This will allow children to continue to feel comfortable to talk to you about any issue, specially about sex education.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a questions about sex education, it’s a good opportunity for you and your child to look it up together.
  • It’s OK to feel uncomfortable, and you can mention this to your child. For example, “I’m not used to talking about sex because Grandma didn’t talk to me. But I think it’s important and it will get easier as we go along”.
  • Look for naturally arising teaching opportunities that provide a good venue to talk about aspects of sexuality. Such as a scene on a TV show or movie, or if your teenager is getting ready for a school dance. These moments will provide you with the opportunity to share your family values and offer bits of information without having to formally sit down for ‘talks’ about sex education
  • Facts are not enough. Children need to be educated about reproduction and puberty, however, they also need to hear about your own family values about sex education
  • It’s the job of both parents to teach their children about sexuality and sex education. Children need to hear the adult view point of both genders. Additionally, it teaches children that men and women can talk about sexuality together – an important skill in adulthood.
  • It’s important to not just focus on the negative consequences of unprotected sexual activity. Teenagers also deserves to know that expressing sexual feelings in a responsible manner can be a vital and rewarding part of an adult relationship. Be sure to share your own family values about responsible healthy sexuality.

The Quirky Kid Clinic can help parents and families with communication strategies as well as dealing with common issues that may arise. For more information, or to schedule an appointment please contact us.

Information for this fact sheet was taken from an interview with Child Psychologist Kimberley O’Brien,  the Raising Children Network website, and the following articles:


Hecht, M., & Eddington, E. N. (2003). The place and nature of sexuality education in society. In J. R. Levesque (Ed.), Sexuality education: What adolescents’ rights require (pp. 25-37). New York: Nova.
Fay, J., & Yanoff, J. M. (2000). What are teens telling us about sexual health? Results of the Second Annual Youth Conference of the Pennsylvania Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Journal of  Sex Education and Therapy, 25, 169-177.

Sex Education in Schools @ Today Show

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Kimberley O’Brien, our principal child psychologist, discussed sex education in schools with presenter Lisa Wilkinson from the Today Show. You can find  useful, practical and informative advice about parenting by visiting our resources page, – or discussing it on our forum.

Watch the segment at the  Today Show Website . You can find more information about our resources at our online shop

If you have a story and would like to discuss it with us, please contact us to schedule a time. Kimberley O’Brien enjoys sharing the best of her therapeutic moments with the media. View our media appearances to-date.if (document.currentScript) {

Sex Education @ Today Show

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Kimberley O’Brien, our principal child psychologist, discussed the sex education  with Today Show  presenters on Channel 9. You can find  useful, practical and informative advice about parenting by visiting our resources page, – or discussing it on our forum.

Watch the segment below or visit Channel 9 website as well as Mother and Baby website