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Annie’s Mailbox: 11-year-old should know facts of life

Mon., Jan. 21, 2013, midnight

Dear Annie: I have an 11-year-old daughter, and I feel she may know more about the “birds and bees” than she should because of what she sees on TV and hears on the radio.

It seems that every time I turn on the radio, we hear a song with the word “sex” in it multiple times. When we watch TV (even so-called family shows on family-oriented channels), we see people passionately kissing or using words like “penis” and “vagina.”

What do you think of sharing information about sex with preteens? – Mom

Dear Mom: By the time a child is 11, she should know plenty about the birds and the bees, presumably because her parents have explained things to her. And she should also know the correct terms for parts of the anatomy, including the private parts.

Parents often wait to discuss these things with their kids, not only because they are uncomfortable doing so, but also because they believe their children don’t need this information until they are older and educating them will somehow encourage them to have sex. This is not true. It only means your child will get his or her sexual information from unreliable and misleading sources – friends, the Internet, songs on the radio and messages on TV. Teaching your child about sex, with your own moral values attached, will allow her to respond appropriately to situations when she encounters them – and she undoubtedly will.

When she hears something objectionable on TV or the radio, use it as an opportunity to explain your feelings on the subject. And you always have the option of changing the channel, setting parental controls or turning it off.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, in care of Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.


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